Having a strong board is a key for most downtown organizations. Whether you are staff-driven or volunteer driven you need to have a supportive board who will help move your organization in a positive direction. In the past we’ve shared with you tools to help your Nominating Committee, what to look for in a board member, and tools to help your new board members.
Today, however, we wanted to give you a tool that your nominating committee especially will find useful that will help ensure your board is as strong as can be. We all know that Executive Director’s have a lot on their plate – but that doesn’t mean that we expect them to be an expert on everything. Some of you are laughing right now, and I understand. I’ve been there and unfortunately people forget that you didn’t simultaneously go to law school, medical school, engineering school, all while being versed in public relations, property development and retail.
When you start to think about everything we do downtown, it can be daunting. This is part of the reason our director turnover rate is about three years. However, having the right board can retain those quality staff longer while making the organization even better. To help ensure we had the right types of voices on the organization we created a board matrix. This is a tool that our nominating committee would use alongside their evaluation and brainstorming worksheet. The goal with this matrix was to make sure we had a well-rounded board that would be a positive influence on the board of directors.
The first section of the form focuses on their industry. This makes sure we aren’t picking all retailers, or forgetting an important segment of the district. By having representation from all sectors of the district.
The second section of our form focused on the individuals skills. We list skills that are important for the organization to have. This doesn’t mean that Board Member A is going to be responsible for that particular task. Often, that will still fall to the Executive Director. However, having someone on the board with that skill set gives the director someone who can be a mentor or lend assistance/guidance on a particular issue. They will also be helpful when issues in their wheelhouse come before the board.
The next section we look at is experience. While experience isn’t required to be on the board, it is helpful to have some board members that do have some experience with the committees of the organization. This lends knowledge and cuts down on the amount of time your boards spends doing the work of the committees. Rather, they know the work is being done so they can update the board and move onto the next report.
We then look at ownership, specifically property and business ownership. Again, these are not requirements, but I would always suggest that you have a certain percentage of your board that is invested in the district as an owner of either a business or property. These will become very helpful allies as you try to rally support for various projects throughout the district.
The last piece we look at are the demographics of the board. You want your board to resemble your district. By using this demographics section we are able to ensure that the makeup of the board closely resembles that of your district and community.
This matrix can’t guarantee you have a successful board. However, when used by your nominating committee it greatly increases the odds that you have a well-rounded board that can deal with everything that comes your way.
If you would like to get a copy of the matrix, please fill out the form to the right and you will be emailed a copy of the matrix.