Here are the typical characteristics of a messy board.

Board Structure

  • No or unenforced term limits
  • The founder is also the Executive Director AND board chair
  • Fewer than 5 or more than 25 members

Board Meetings

  • Materials are rarely sent out in advance
  • And nobody reads them when they are
  • Disorganized and unengaging
  • Often unattended
  • Happen too often or too infrequently

Roles and Responsibilities

  • Lack of clarity around who is responsible for what
  • The board refuses to fundraise
  • No active and productive committees

Makeup and Recruitment

  • Members are friends of the founder
  • Lack of diversity of skills
  • Not representative of the community
  • No process for onboarding new members

Co-pilot Relationship

  • Board chair and ED do not cooperate
  • Or they are the same person
  • Mutual distrust and blame between board and staff


  • No formal annual review of the ED
  • Board members are never assessed

How can you get to the next stage… IMPROVING?

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!