Post by BVU Staff: Elizabeth Voudouris, Executive Vice President
Who is your nonprofit’s next board chair? Next treasurer? Does your board regularly rotate committee chairs? Do officers have term limits? Or do you have good officers and committee chairs and you don’t want to change a thing? Regardless, a pipeline of strong board leaders is critical to the healthy performance and engagement of any board. Succession planning for the board itself is the responsibility of the governance committee, and it applies to all board positions. Every seat on your board is precious, and each new recruit and tenured board member should be regarded as a high potential leader.
What does effective board succession planning look like? At BVU, we recommend that it is all choreographed by the governance committee, not simply selected by the current chair and ceo. Each year, the governance committee should review every leadership position, note terms and term limits, and identify changes in the organization that might fall under the purview of a particular committee or officer. Based on this forecast, what are the ideal criteria sought in each officer and committee chair position for the next few years. Who do you have? Who do you need? How will they be recruited and groomed? Again – this is the work of the governance committee in consultation with the ceo and the board chair.
A strong board chair is essential to the effective engagement of a nonprofit board. Strong board chairs are carefully and thoughtfully groomed – recruited to the board as a potential leader, quickly nominated as a vice chair and then chair of one of the significant board committees (this is where the leadership and communication style are most evident to the board and staff), and finally moving into an officer role.
The bottom line – the governance committee plays a critical role in building and maintaining a strong board and leadership pipeline. An effective governance committee meets year-round, and the identification, recruitment, engagement and grooming of all board members and leaders is coordinated by this committee.