Here are the typical characteristics of a healthy board.

Board Structure

  • You have term limits and enforce them
  • The founder is not BOTH the staff AND board leader
  • Board size is between 5 and 25
  • Committees have clear responsibilities, annual goals, and work effectively

Board Meetings

  • Pre-meeting materials are smartly created with a detailed agenda, but sometimes come a bit late
  • Members come prepared and are engaged
  • Members leave meetings feeling inspired and informed, knowing how to spread the word
  • Time is spent on what really matters rather than on reviewing things that have already happened
  • Staff presentations are engaging and offer chances to ask questions

Makeup and Recruitment

  • Members come from founder’s or board members’ network
  • Some diversity of skills
  • Fairly representative of the community
  • The onboarding process does a good job of getting new members excited but the process could be stronger

Roles and Responsibilities

  • Board and staff each understand their mutual roles, take them seriously, and usually respect boundaries
  • Some board members fundraise enthusiastically. For others, it can feel like pulling teeth

Co-pilot Relationship

  • Board chair and ED get along well and are mutually supportive, but the relationship could be more productive
  • When it comes to the board and staff, boundary issues do crop up on occasion, which can cause some tension. But overall intentions are good


  • Board provides a consistent and formal annual review of the staff leader
  • Board members are sometimes assessed, but usually it’s informal

How can you get to the next stage… THRIVING?

Joan GarryGlad you asked! I’ve helped thousands of leaders like you and so over the next few weeks I will send you a handful of emails with practical advice that will help you transform your board for the better. This is advice I know will really help you.

So be on the lookout for emails from joan at (that’s me, Joan Garry!)

See you soon!