A Primer for Non-Profit Board Members
Board Basics offers realistic advice to existing or new non-profit board members. Everything from the creation of an agenda and budget to orientations, self-evaluation, and a rich discussion of boundaries and governance is covered in this volume. This primer is an important resource for newly announced board members or experienced members who want a refresher about their responsibilities.
Covey writes in a clear and effective manner. The fast-paced chapters include relevant tips and advice while avoiding jargon-laced language. This means that people of all ages and backgrounds will be able to learn about the non-profit world and what to expect. This book is easy to read because each chapter is broken down with headers and bullets. Though a slim volume, this primer feels complete because so much ground is covered in less than a hundred pages.
Board Basics breaks down the role of a governing board into sections. This is more than listing the different duties linked to such a responsibility. Instead, Covey explains the reasoning behind different tasks like an audit or board member orientation. These explanations continuously remind the reader of the relationship between the board and the non-profit it governs. In the process, the reader gains an important understanding of the checks and balances involved between the two groups.
Though Board Basics is full of useful information, the order of information sometimes seems off. For example, communication and boundaries are covered before the nitty-gritty details of things like understanding a budget. It may have been more useful to discuss the mechanics and duties of the board before going into the interpersonal and philosophical aspects of such a position. Though the book is full of interesting questions and specific advice, the one thing it lacks is real-life scenarios. Creating a fake non-profit and discussing how a board could guide and monitor such a group could have made the lessons and advice even more effective.
A non-profit’s board does not have to exist behind closed doors. Board Basics lifts the curtain so that people can understand such a role. Though short, the book is filled with useful advice about creating and maintaining boundaries, understanding the purpose of a non-profit’s board, and learning how to engage and participate with fellow members in a healthy, productive, and respectful manner. Reading this guide will take little to no time but will certainly benefit both experienced and novice board members looking to stabilize non-profits and help such groups grow to realize their full potential.