Friday, December 16, 2011

Probationary Board Terms

When I hear of a new idea in nonprofits, I listen, consider, perhaps investigate a bit and wait for a while to see if it's repeated somewhere else. Second time; interesting. Third time, OK, this may have merit.

Just that sequence has happened to me about the concept of a probationary one-year term for board members. The idea is that both the nonprofit and the board member need to get to know each other. The nonprofit needs to know that the board member will show up, show up prepared and show up ready to participate. The new board member needs to know whether the board obligations they were told about are true or an......understatement.

After a year, a probationary board member is, hopefully, asked to serve the first of two three year terms. If he or she agrees, all good. If either party is uncomfortable, they can back away and not take up a valuable board slot for three years.

I think this idea has some legs. With board members getting harder to recruit, it allows the good ones to be on the board one year longer, avoids "empty seat" syndrome and sends the message to all board members that they are expected to participate.

We'll see if I hear about it a fourth time.....

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