This is the final blog post in our series on not-for-profit board composition and communication based on survey results from 43 members of management and the boards of directors of not-for-profit organizations throughout Arkansas. Our previous posts in this series introduced the purpose of the survey and summarized the results of the survey related to board size, term limits, board expertise, and the information needs of not-for-profit boards. Below is a summary of the results of our survey related to the format and frequency of not-for-profit board communication.
Format of Communication
When considering the format of board communication, seventy-six percent of respondents stated the primary method of ensuring board members are kept up to date on the operations of the organization is email. The remaining respondents stated board and committee meetings are frequently used as communication methods in addition to email. Content should be at a high-level to facilitate strategic thinking and one-on-one emails should be used when appropriate as a personal email is more likely to be read than a group email. Email is a great mode of communication; however, many people receive hundreds of emails daily and have limited time to read through these messages. Therefore, it is important to consider both the content and frequency of email communications.
Frequency of Communication
The frequency of board meetings can vary depending on the nature of the operations and activeness of various board committees. More than 90% of respondents said they meet at least quarterly and believe the ideal frequency of meetings to be at least quarterly.
More than 90 percent of respondents stated their organizations utilize various board committees to help the board fulfill specific functions. The most commonly reported committees were executive, finance, marketing, development/fundraising, education, and governance committees. Seventy percent of respondents indicated their organization has 3 -5 active committees. The majority of respondents stated these committees consist of both members of the board of directors and other individuals.
The frequency of the committee meetings reported ranged from more frequently than monthly to annually depending on the nature and purpose of the committee. Though the exact formula for communication will vary for each organization, good communication is necessary for organizations to make the greatest impact on our community.
The needs of each organization will vary due to the unique nature of each mission; however, we hope the survey results presented throughout this blog series will be a helpful tool as you evaluate the composition of your board and consider the effectiveness of the communication in your organization.