What are the main weaknesses, omissions, mistakes, flaws, bad judgments, and sins that a board or an individual board member can commit?

  1. Veering off the mission The most important guideline for a board on all decision making is the mission statement. If the mission is not central at every board meeting, it is easy to lose focus on the true purpose of the organization.
  2. Complacency Some symptoms of complacency might include board members who miss meetings, fail to participate in discussions, and put off assignments.
  3. Misguided motivations Board members must always put the organization first. Allowing personal preferences to affect decision making places the organization in a secondary role in a board member’s mind.
  4.  Multiple voices A board only has authority as a group. Boards speak with one voice, which is formulated through deliberation. Individual board members are bound by the collective decision.
  5. Micromanagement One of the key duties of a board is to hire a competent chief executive to run daily operations. Part of this duty assumes that there is a valid job description and a performance evaluation process in place.
  6. Limitless terms Every board must accept and even thrive on change. New perspectives and different ideas keep the board and organization moving forward. Term limits can help the board avoid stagnation.
  7. Lawless governance Nonprofit tax-exempt organizations must heed federal, state, and local regulations, as well as their own bylaws. It is the board’s role to make sure that all laws are respected.
  8. No board self-assessment By studying its own behavior, sharing impressions, and analyzing the results, the board is able to lay the groundwork for self-improvement.
  9. Lack of self-improvement Self-improvement is one of the innate consequences of self-assessment. Regular self-assessment is a futile process if it does not address apparent weaknesses in a board and result in structured self-betterment.
  10. Knotted purse strings Asking for and giving donations are natural aspects of being a board member in most 501(c)(3) charities. Boards that are responsible for fundraising, yet don’t have a 100 percent personal contribution rate, have failed the ultimate commitment test.

Read the full article about common board problems at BoardSource.