Having an Effective Board Strategy- Chair Positions

Dan Charobee

Dan Charobee

You are trying to keep the board focused, increase revenues to add or maintain services, and putting out fires. If only you could clone yourself. Maybe there is a better way. A very effective strategic technique utilizes board chairs to meet an organization’s mission. Think of them as multidimensional tools that influences all of your stakeholders.

Comparable business strategies use vice presidencies to focus resources, revenue generation, and expertise. Taking a strategy from their play book is smart on three levels. First, it adds to the growth and expertise of your organization. Second, it rewards and enhances the position of the chair person. Finally, it gives a specific board member a title; giving them access to higher management levels in other organizations.

Here’s what to consider when setting up an effective chair:

  • Will they be paid chairs? A chair can carry a direct donation or a responsibility for a specific level of funding.
  • Will they be expertise chairs? Getting a board member with a specific level of expertise in your field can be a strong draw to additional expertise directly in your organization and to developing long term funder relationships.
  • Will they be relationship chairs? People with contacts in a specific area, such as prominent corporations, government agencies, and financial institutions can broaden an organization’s footprint in the community.
  • How will the chair be promoted (marketed)? Creating a board chair is something to talk about. It is also something that you can include in your public relations and marketing. Your new chairperson would be happy to let their contacts know about their new position.

Practical considerations include:

  • What is the chair’s term of service? Having fixed time frame provides the opportunity to review and make changes as needed.
  • How will they be qualified? This says how and who will review their credentials and appointment. 
  • What are their responsibilities? You can describe the position as developmental or oversight, and any specific duties.
  • Who will they report to? This is the time for an organizational plan.
  • What authority will they have? You decide the authority of the chair position.
  • Who will they represent? A chair can be a great ambassador for the entire organization or a specific program. 

Finally, reiterate that all chairs serve at the direction of the ED and/or board and according to your bylaws.

 Author:  Dan Charobee, Executive Coaches of Orange County, www.ECofOC.org