A good board of directors brings together people with different profiles, expertise and networks. It acts as a safeguard and is a highly valuable source of advice and contacts to promote your organization’s development. Your board should be made up according to your strategic objectives. For example, if you want to focus on audience development, you should approach someone with experience in this domain. In any event, a good arts organization board should be composed of at least one person with skills in the following areas:
- Management/strategic planning
Find people who have the skills you need to help you grow. If you’re a young organization with limited experience, but need help to create governance tools, don’t hesitate to call upon younger professionals to help you. If your organization is ready to launch a major fundraising campaign, and you have the staff needed to oversee a team of volunteers, then focus on individuals who are nearing the end of their careers. They’re in a perfect position to introduce you to people and corporations who could give you financial support.
You’re responsible for managing your board. Nevertheless, your current members should all feel concerned with governance as well as recruiting the best possible candidates to help you grow the way you want.
To recruit the right people for your board of directors, you and your current members should:
1. Make a list of your board’s strengths.
2. Ensure that you have professional liability insurance for your board members.
3. Make a list of your development objectives, as well as the skills needed on your board to help you reach your goals.
4. Look for new members in obvious places: for instance, Bénévoles d’affaires. Many business people have submitted their CV to this group in the hope of joining the board of an arts organization that might interest them. Make sure that yours is that organization!
Are you looking for an accountant? Get involved in activities organized by orders of accountants or other networking groups. artsScène Montréal, and the various boards of trade, are also good places to make contact with business people.
5. Offer the mandate to someone you’ve identified and with whom you’ve made contact. Be clear about your expectations, but make sure that this person’s expectations will also be taking into account if he or she joins your board.
6. Give yourself a trial period of a few months. As in every new relationship, there’s always an adaptation period. Be aware that you come from different worlds and that good communication is essential to working together effectively. Take the time to build this communication; if the experience isn’t working, be honest about it.
7. Officially welcome the new member and thank them on a regular basis for their voluntary support of your organization.
Workshops and courses on governance provide a good opportunity to learn more about how to properly manage your board of directors.
Here are a few examples of training opportunities (in French) that might interest you and your board members:
- Leadership Montréal
- L’institut des administrateurs de société
- Le Réseau des jeunes administrateurs: customized training for 25- to 40 year-olds, organized jointly by the JCCM, CRÉ de Montréal and IAS.
- CAM and HEC Montréal: new training course on governance for board presidents and administrative/artistic directors of arts organizations.
- Institute for governance of public and private organizations
- Jeunes administrateurs de l'Institut sur la gouvernance des organismes publics et privés: a series of conferences aimed at initiating discussion about governance among young professionals.