Sometimes when there is a crisis in our lives, we get fired up and singularly focused on dealing with that particular issue. In some ways, we become more productive and better collaborators all because have the same goal — to work together to overcome this challenge.

However, we also find ourselves ignoring our usual good habits in order to “just get through” this time.  Many of us, myself included, have found themselves giving up their exercise routine when pressures at work arose or when we’ve lost a loved one. And how many of us have found themselves baking and comfort eating sweets during this pandemic? This is all a normal reaction, but it’s not always what is best for us. If anything, we need our routines and our exercise and healthy eating habits now more than ever.

It’s the same for our nonprofit organizations. Our nonprofits need good boards more than ever, and our boards need their good governance practices to help our communities work through this pandemic. While it might be tempting for our nonprofit boards to ignore their usual board practices and good governance procedures to address the COVID-19 situation, I would encourage you to stay strong and be intentional about your board practices, and instead, use this time to work towards exceptional governance.

  1. Constructive Partnership: Exceptional boards govern in constructive partnership with the chief executive, recognizing that the effectiveness of the board and chief executive are interdependent.
  2. Mission Driven: Exceptional boards shape and uphold the mission, articulate a compelling vision, and ensure the congruence between decisions and core values.
  3. Strategic Thinking: Exceptional boards allocate time to what matters most and continuously engage in strategic thinking to hone the organization’s direction.
  4. Culture of Inquiry: Exceptional boards institutionalize a culture of inquiry, mutual respect, and constructive debate that leads to sound and shared decision making.
  5. Independent-Mindedness: Exceptional boards are independent-minded. When making decisions, board members put the interests of the organization above all else.
  6. Ethos of Transparency: Exceptional boards promote an ethos of transparency by ensuring that donors, stakeholders, and interested members of the public have access to appropriate and accurate information regarding finances, operations, and results.
  7. Compliance with Integrity: Exceptional boards promote strong ethical values and disciplined compliance by establishing appropriate mechanisms for active oversight.
  8. Sustaining Resources: Exceptional boards link bold visions and ambitious plans to financial support, expertise, and networks of influence.
  9. Results Oriented: Exceptional boards are results oriented. They measure the organization’s advancement towards mission and evaluate the performance of major programs and services.
  10.  Intentional Board Practices: Exceptional boards intentionally structure themselves to fulfill essential governance duties and to support organizational priorities.
  11. Continuous Learning: Exceptional boards embrace the qualities of a continuous learning organization, evaluating their own performance and assessing the value they add to the organization.
  12. Revitalization: Exceptional boards energize themselves through planned turnover, thoughtful recruitment, and inclusiveness.

Read the full article about principles of exceptional board governance by Joy Folkedal at BoardSource.