Monday, May 24, 2010

Enhancing Board Trust

You cannot guarantee others will be trustworthy, but you can create a climate that improves trust on your board of directors. That climate, no surprise, is built on healthy relationships.

Your board trusts you because they know you and see your work. However, it is likely they do not know or may not trust other board members whom they meet one time per month in a formal setting around your large conference table.

You can create a climate of trust among these strangers. Naturally, you will help select and support the election of board members whom you believe will be trustworthy. Once they begin serving, provide opportunities for them to understand, know and learn to trust other members. One way is to help each board member to articulate why your cause is important to them and share their commitment to it by sharing their personal story—perhaps once per year for everyone or one member per month. To further create a climate of trust, include regular opportunities for one-on-one conversations during your meetings. Also, take 20 minutes to get board members into small group work during a board meeting and report back to the group as a whole. You will also want to work with your chair to enforce the consequences the board sets for itself, especially in terms of attendance and donations. Also, let all the board members know how others fulfill their commitments and be willing to help less organized members remember their promises with minutes, email reminders and check-in telephone calls.

For more about building trust in and around your nonprofit, email us at for a copy of our May 2010 Added Value newsletter, “Frankly My Dear I Don’t Trust You.“


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