Boards are Stewards of Mission
Did you know that boards are stewards of Mission? As a member of a not for profit Board of Directors, you have a special and moral duty. You represent the “moral owners” of the organization. You, along with other members, oversee the stated mission on the basis of the founders and current stakeholders. Sometimes organizations can deviate from the mission and purpose of its founders. Then it is the role of the board of directors to call the organization, through its CEO, to the heart of mission and purpose. Boards keep organizations on track.
In making decisions for the health and wellbeing of the organization, board members take into account various stakeholders. They pay attention to trends and opportunities. And, they keep an eye on fiscal stability and success as well as excellent service to clients served. It is important to remember that they do this collectively, not individually. Together board members provide oversight, create strategy, and look into the future.
At heart, board members are stewards of mission. Edgar Stoez, in his excellent book on Governance, Doing Good Even Better, has a great diagram, portraying the organization as a ship in a channel. The board sets the buoys in place to define the edges of the channel through which the organization sails. Destination is a shared responsibility of CEO and Board. Meanwhile, the board establishes the edges of the channel.
The role of the Board in stewarding your mission is most adequately described in “Principles of Good Governance”, published by Independent Sector.
When boards of directors keep their collective eye on the destination, they can guide not for profit organizations to do amazing things. When they focus on purpose, diversity, agility, and the future, they are truly stewards of mission.