Published in the Tallahassee Democrat, May 4, 2011
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While they may be driven by motivation to serve and dedication to community, volunteers on nonprofit boards must be prepared for their roles in directing their organizations’ activities.
A total of 180 board members from throughout the region attended the Building Better Boards Leadership Conference on Tuesday evening to learn the fundamentals and then some.
“Board governance is crucial to the health of an organization,” said Barbara Boone, executive director of the conference sponsor, Leadership Tallahassee. Sessions covered financial topics, a board’s duties and the key points of fulfilling a nonprofit’s mission. “For the people who are making the decisions about these things, it’s important that they get this training,” she added.
Bennett Napier, a principal in the firm Partners in Association Management, presented many of the basics for volunteer leaders, starting with having a clear mission in mind and goals for the group, as well as how volunteers are expected to contribute.
“If there is no clear-cut definition of what your role is in the organization, that’s when people get frustrated with being a volunteer,” he told his audience at Tallahassee Community College’s Center for Workforce Development.
Napier discussed the fiduciary responsibility that board members have for their nonprofit’s finances, how funds are spent, and the required reporting. He also described a “duty of care” that means volunteer members keep up with board business, attend meetings, vote and address problems that may arise.
At the session on social media, attendees heard from a panel on how to expand an organization’s reach through Facebook, Twitter and other tools. Ryan Cohn of marketing firm What’s Next recommended building a following within the organization, but also adding others who want to join the discussion.
Social media permits a form of two-way communication, he noted. “It’s all about the right people, engaging them, and having a conversation with them.
For nonprofit executives and their staffs, the 12th annual Conference for Excellence in Nonprofit Management & Leadership takes place today, a program of United Partners for Human Services.