Every year, January presents the option of a sparkling new start—personally, professionally, and even organizationally. Once the month rolls around, though, it’s easy to forget the things we said we’d get to in the new year.
But for you and your board of directors, January is the perfect time to recalibrate and refresh.
Here are five of the most important things you can check off the list to start the new year on the right track.
1. Review Your Bylaws
Nonprofit bylaws are the foundation of your organization. They outline your governance structure, officer roles, financial practices, and conflicts of interest.
For such an important document, bylaws often end up sitting in filing cabinets gathering dust. It’s not uncommon for smaller organizations to find they’ve been operating woefully out of step with their bylaws for a long time.
Make it a habit to review your bylaws at the beginning of every new year. Consider removing or adjusting anything that no longer applies. This might include organizational positions, committees, or outdated board policies.
2. Review Board Member Position Descriptions
Board position descriptions are something every nonprofit organization needs to have. They outline the expectations and obligations of each board member, so nothing’s left up to interpretation.
Position descriptions cut down on misunderstandings around the role and scope of a board member’s responsibilities. And the beginning of a new year is a great time to review board member job descriptions to see if anything’s changed.
Has the position grown beyond what the description lists? Have you taken away responsibilities or reassigned them?
3. Consider Your Committees
Board committees are small groups of board members focused on specific areas of interest. Committees can oversee organizational finance, fundraising, governance, communications, and even executive concerns of the board itself.
Year to year, the need for certain committees may grow or change. January offers a chance for reflection on the prior year’s successes and challenges, as well as the opportunities that lay ahead.
Are there special events coming up this year that need extra attention? Do you need to shift the focus of the executive committee to evaluation or recruitment? Take this chance to adjust as necessary.
4. Get Professional Development On the Calendar
Professional development is an important part of board service, and it’s something that often gets overlooked or pushed to the back burner.
Take the opportunity a fresh new year provides to get a feel for the kind of development your board members would find most useful. Do they need a finance refresher? Media training? A crash course in fundraising and nonprofit development?
Schedule workshops and trainings well in advance, and make sure all board members understand that attendance is an expected part of their board service.
5. Set the Tone for Fundraising Success
Set the tone for a year of fundraising by including board members in the acknowledgment process for your year-end donors. Encourage them to cultivate relationships with VIP donors and prospects by calling, handwriting notes, or arranging one-on-one meetings.
Review the fundraising requirements you have on the books for your board members. Make sure you’re integrating these expectations into your communications with the board as a whole.
If you don’t have fundraising requirements outlined for your board members, this is the time to consider implementing them.
New Year, Better Communication
Most people are on board for fresh starts in the new year—it’s something we’ve gotten used to and even enjoy.
So take advantage of the energy injection to review these five operational areas and set your board up for success in 2023!
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