April 2013: 5 Tips for a Better Board

In this Issue

Opening Remarks

How functional is your Board? If you are like many organizations, you are looking for ways to improve the effectiveness of the Board. In this edition of Transforming Challenges, Tom Reid suggests five areas you might want to focus on to improve your Board.

At The Reid Group, we have a passion for helping leaders and organizations transform their challenges into opportunities to create a better world. One of the ways we do that is through this e-letter, Transforming Challenges. Is there someone you know who could benefit from receiving it? Forward this edition to them and encourage them to subscribe for themselves. They’ll thank you—and so do we!

The Reid Group News

  • We are very pleased to announce that the Archdiocese of New York has hired The Reid Group to help in the reorganization of its 368 parishes in 10 counties. Cardinal Timothy Dolan, Maureen Gallagher and John Reid will meet with the priests, deacons and religious of the archdiocese on June 6 to begin work on the project “Making All Things New.”
  • Maureen Gallagher has been hired by the North American Center for Marianist Studies to work with them on a strategic planning process.
  • Maureen Gallagher and John Reid have been hired by the Catholic Health Association for a third national project to conduct a salary and attitudinal survey for senior mission leaders im health care facilities across the country. This will follow up on previous surveys conducted in 1993 and 2006.
  • John Reid and Maureen Gallagher facilitated Assembly 2013 of the Sisters of Mercy West Midwest in Chicago in early April. More than 300 sister delegates were joined by a number of associates in a lively, five-day meeting which addressed issues of sponsorship, governance and internal/external relationships along with the election of a new six-member Community Leadership Team. A good time was had by all!
  • The Reid Group consulting team is going on retreat for three days at the end of April to reflect on learnings from the last several years and to develop strategies for more effective service to clients in the years ahead.

So as you look at your individual or organizational future, what are your challenges? Could you benefit from skilled support? Give us a call at 206-432-3565 or send us ane-mail to start transforming those challenges into opportunities.

Quotes for Inspiration and Action

Excellence is an art won by training and habituation. We do not act rightly because we have virtue or excellence, but we rather have those because we have acted rightly. We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit.

Failure is not falling down but refusing to get up.
Chinese proverb

Joy is the holy fire that keeps our purpose warm and our intelligence aglow.
Helen Keller

We can never judge the lives of others, because each person knows only their own pain and renunciation. It’s one thing to feel that you are on the right path, but it’s another to think that yours is the only path.
Paulo Coelho

There is no such thing as a worthless conversation, provided you know what to listen for. And questions are the breath of life for a conversation.
James Nathan Miller

Feature Focus

5 Tips for a Better Board

ImageTom Reid, Senior Consultant,
The Reid Group

On a scale of 1-10—with 1 being “a waste of time” and 10 being “outstanding partners”—how would you rate your Board?

Many Boards, especially non-profit Boards, are pools of underdeveloped potential. There are many reasons why, but most would fall into these five areas:

Role clarification. What kind of a Board is it? Advisory? Decision-making? A working Board? Be clear about the role you want your Board to play. And pay attention to the difference between a vision and policy role and a day-to-day operations role. Generally, the former is the job of the Board (with input from staff) and the latter is the job of staff (with input from the Board).

Recruitment. A lot of nonprofits have a tough time finding Board members, so they will take pretty much any warm body that says yes. What is your recruitment strategy? What kind of backgrounds do you want your Board members to have (direct service, finance, fund raising, gender, age or ethnic diversity, etc.)? If you are clear about what you’re looking for, you will avoid the pitfall of filling Board slots with people who won’t strengthen the Board’s functionality.

Reasons for serving: The motive for membership on your board is pivotal. If the goal is a merit badge for their resume or recognition for public service, then don’t bother. Effective Board members are both passionate about the mission and willing to work with the President or Executive Director to create a vision for the future as well as a system of accountability in realizing the vision. If your Board members cherish this opportunity to make a difference in a way that matters, then you will both benefit from serious investment.

Responsibilities. What responsibilities will individual Board members have? Will they just be asked to show up at Board meetings, or will they serve on one or more committees? What is the extent of their financial responsibilities—will they be liable if your organization is sued? Are they responsible for fundraising? It’s a good idea to create a job description for Board members that lists their responsibilities.

Realistic expectations. How much time do you expect Board members to give to Board activities? Do you expect that they will contribute financially as well as give their time? How long will they be expected to serve? Will they be asked to bring their friends on board? You want not only to be clear at the outset about expectations, but you also want to be realistic.

Paying attention to these areas of Board development is the job of both you and the Board. And that might feel like just another task added to your already-overloaded schedule. But you’ll find that being serious about Board development will, in the end, make everyone’s job easier not harder.


missionandidentityMission and Identity: A Handbook for Trustees of Catholic Colleges and Universities

A joint publication of the Association of Catholic Colleges and Universities, the Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universities, and the Association of Governing Boards of Universities and Colleges, this collection of essays provides helpful background for trustees interested in fostering the Catholic mission of their college or university. Copies are available for $10 each, plus $3.50 shipping and handling. To order, send a check, payable to Association of Catholic Colleges and Universities, to ACCU, One Dupont Circle NW, Suite 650, Washington, DC, 20036.



Board Source offers a large volume of resources, both for download and purchase, on governing nonprofit organizations, including Board development.


The Art of Change: Faith, Vision and Prophetic Planning

Think about what your organization could do if the process of planning met the inevitability of change head-on—and it resulted in significant success.

Organizations large and small, religious and secular, for-profit and not-for-profit, successful and unsuccessful, go through change. John Reid and Maureen Gallagher of the Reid Group have been instrumental in helping many groups discover the power of Prophetic Planning. This book presents a complete overview with detailed information that any organization will find useful in understanding how to plan for change.

The Art of Change: Faith, Vision and Prophetic Planning, and its companion CD are now available from Liguori Publications as well as from Amazon.com.


And that’s it for this month. Look for Transforming Challenges next month–and until then, have a good day and a great week.
Kathy Johnson, Editor
Transforming Challenges
Subscription Information

Manage your E-Letter Subscription

The Reid Group E-Letter is © The Reid Group, 12535 15th Ave. NE, Suite 211, Seattle WA 98125; 206-432-3565.
Any part of this newsletter may be reproduced with full attribution.