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The Board Member's Yearbook - Life as a Board Chair
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Above and Beyond: Life as a Board Chair

You have been chosen to serve as Chair of the board for at least one year. What should you do to prepare for this year? What should you expect to do during your year? What should you expect of your relationship with the organization’s chief executive?


The Alliance recommends that you prepare for your year of service by taking the following five steps:

  1. Review again the key organizational documents of your nonprofit to refresh your familiarity with the organization’s vision, goals and operating norms. These should include: the bylaws, major board policies, the strategic plan, the most recent 990 filing with the IRS, the most recent audited or reviewed financial statement, key program documents, etc.

  2. Meet at least once with the organization’s chief executive to agree upon mutual expectations of your respective roles. In addition, you should create a schedule of regular (ideal: monthly) meetings with the chief executive to coordinate and communicate about those expectations, the board’s goals and the needs of the organization.
  3. Set no more than three goals for yourself for the year. These goals should relate to your contributions as a board member, not the overall organization. And they should relate to goals for the board itself.

  4. Meet individually with each member of the board to share with them your goals, and develop an understanding of how you can support each of them in realizing their full potential as board members. Ideally, each individual board member is clear about what they will do for the organization during the coming year, and you can gain mutual clarity about that.

  5. Sketch a plan for the agendas of all regular board meetings to be held during your tenure as chair. This should be sketched in cooperation with the chief executive, and as much as possible, you should try to hold yourselves to this “advance agenda” concept. This assures that you are using board meetings strategically and not just reacting to events or wasting time on listening to committee reports.


Resources to help accomplish these steps and prepare for your year as Board Chair:

     What is Good Governance? 
     Roles and Responsibilities of Board Members
     Governance Policies
     Bylaws Checklist
     Starting Off on the Right Foot
     Relationship with the Chief Executive
     The Board Paradox
     What is Micromanagement?
     Ten Biggest Mistakes of Boards and CEOs
     Leadership Resources
     Ethics and Accountability


The Board Member's Yearbook

Giving Back: The Role of a Nonprofit Board Member

Above and Beyond: Life as a Board Chair

Framework for Success: A Year of Board Service

     1st Quarter - Organizational Strategy

     2nd Quarter - Fundraising

     3rd Quarter - Team Building

     4th Quarter - Best Practices and Trends


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Alliance of Arizona Nonprofits
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