Here are the typical characteristics of a thriving board.

Board Structure

  • You have term limits and enforce them
  • The founder is not BOTH the staff AND board leader (or is no longer involved)
  • 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 and come at least a week prior
  • 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 reviewing things that have already happened
  • Staff presentations are engaging and offer chances to ask questions

Makeup and Recruitment

  • Members come from many different sources
  • Strong diversity of skills and representative of the community being served
  • Solid evaluation process exists before adding someone new
  • New members feel appreciated, understand their roles, and are taught how to be the best possible ambassadors they can be

Roles and Responsibilities

  • Board and staff each understand their mutual roles, take them seriously, and respect each others’ boundaries
  • Board members act as strong public ambassadors and fundraise enthusiastically (if expected)

Co-pilot Relationship

  • Board chair and ED get along well and are mutually supportive and the relationship is super productive
  • The relationship between the board and staff in general is healthy and productive. Boundaries are clear. Mutual respect


  • Board provides a consistent and formal annual review of the staff leader
  • Regular board assessments happen that are quite useful

Congratulations! You have an AMAZING Board!

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 can help your board continue to thrive, and may even give you some new ways to get the best out of your already outstanding board.

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

See you soon!