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Free Sample Chapter
The Fruition Coalition
Board Development Workbook

Jessica R. Dreistadt

The Fruition Coalition Board Development Workbook

© 2013, 2016 Jessica R. Dreistadt.

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in
any form or by any means, including photocopying, recording, or other electronic or mechanical
methods, without the prior written permission of the publisher, except in the case of brief
quotations embodied in critical reviews and certain other noncommercial uses permitted by
copyright law. Requests for permission to use or reproduce material from this book should be
directed to

ISBN 978-1537727066

The Fruition Coalition
Lehigh Valley, PA

Table of Contents

Introduction 4
Purpose 5
Recruitment 8
Board Composition 9
Identifying Prospective Members 14
Application and Interview 18
Nominating Process 22
Board Orientation 24
Board Responsibilities 26
Financial 28
Legal 29
Network Expansion 30
Policy Development 31
Planning 32
Fundraising 33
Programs and Services 34
Officers 35
The Board-Executive Director Partnership 42
Board Operations 43
Structure 44
Committees 46
Meetings 49
Discussion and Decision Making 51
Ethics 53
Communication 54
Ongoing Board Development 59
Board Evaluation 60
Advisory Boards 62


I served as the executive director of a small, community-based nonprofit
organization for six years. During that time, I worked with four board presidents
and dozens of board members. Each board member was unique, and each
presented unique joys and challenges. In speaking with my fellow executive
director colleagues—of organizations both small and large—I found that they, too,
experienced a range of joys and challenges related to the volunteer leadership of
their organizations.

The purpose of this book is to demystify the process of board recruitment,
onboarding, engagement, and succession so that all organizations are able to
successfully cultivate dedicated, educated, energized, and organized board
members. The Fruition Coalition Board Development Workbook can be used by
executive directors, board officers, and individual members of the board of
directors to explore and clarify the many aspects of organizational leadership and
governance. It can be used as a mechanism to provoke discussion and as
guideline for organization and planning. This book provides comprehensive
information, yet is flexible enough to be applicable to nonprofit organizations—
and boards—of all sizes and types.

At The Fruition Coalition, everything we do is rooted in purpose and this is how
we open this text. After exploring the purpose and meaning of board leadership,
we will work through the process of recruiting board members. This includes
identifying the needs on your board, identifying prospective board members,
interviewing candidates, and developing a formalized process to nominate and
accept each candidate to the board of directors. A discussion about orienting new
board members so that they can be prepared for effective service will follow.

Next, we will look at all of the possible roles and responsibilities of board
members, including financial, legal, networking, policy, planning, fundraising, and
programmatic duties. We will also explore the unique responsibilities of each
board officer.

After a discussion about creating a positive and mutually supportive board—
executive director relationship, we will look at the specific ways in which boards of
directors function. This includes meetings, committees, decision-making
processes. We will then explore ongoing board development, self-evaluation of
the board of directors, and the role of advisory boards.

I hope that you find this workbook useful as you both explore and clarify the
purpose and role of your board of directors as well as each individual board

With best wishes for fulfilling board service and excellent governance,
Jessica R. Dreistadt


Too often in life, we go through our days without thinking about why we do
what we do.

Let’s begin my exploring the purpose of your board of directors within your
organization as well as how each individual board member can, in some way, fulfill
their life purpose through service on the board.

Boards of directors are a legal requirement for corporations, including
nonprofit corporations. Having a board of directors, and all of the established
practices of board service, are traditions that we have followed—and improved
upon—for generations. But beyond that, why do boards of directors exist? In
particular, what is the purpose of the board of directors in your particular

Your answers to this question will likely reflect the culture and strategic
priorities of your organization. What you discover may differ among board
members, and your executive director might have quite a different perspective
from the volunteer leaders. The purpose of a board is something that we take for
granted, and therefore the true meaning is assumed, implicit, and unexamined.
Having a discussion about board purpose will help to clarify why your board of
directors is important to the organization and to unify the understanding of board
purpose among the board itself as well as the executive staff.

You can use the discussion questions on the next page to guide a discussion or
reflective process to uncover and articulate the purpose of your board of directors.

Once the purpose of the board of directors overall has been established, you
can then explore how each individual board member connects with her or his
unique life purpose, and the personal and professional goals that contribute
toward that purpose, as a member of the board of directors. By doing so, each
board member will have a better understanding of their motivation for board
service as well as what they hope to gain or learn as a result of participation. Board

members can explore their purpose either individually or through a facilitated
group process.

Use the questions on page seven for reflection and/or discussion about each
individual board member’s purpose.

After your board of directors has established its collective and individual
purpose, we will start to explore the process of recruiting new board members
based on what has been discovered.

Purpose—Overall Board of Directors

Use these questions for reflection and discussion. After fully exploring all of the
topics presented, arrive at an agreement about the purpose of your overall board
of directors as the governing body of the organization. Use the space below to
write a purpose statement.

Why does our board of directors exist?

What does the board contribute to the organization?

How does the board impact the organization and its mission?

How does the board of directors add value to the organization?

What are the roles and responsibilities of the board of directors?

Why is the board of directors necessary for this organization?

How does the board of directors fulfill its purpose in the organization?

Our Board of Directors Purpose Statement:

Purpose—Individual Board Members

Use the questions below for reflection and discussion about the unique
purpose and contribution of each individual board member, resulting in a personal
purpose statement. These can be used individually by each individual board
member or share with the group as a means of building a stronger sense of

What is my life purpose?

What are my professional and personal life goals?

Why did I decide to join this board of directors?

What do I contribute as a board member?

How do I add value to the board of directors?

How do I add value to the organization?

Why does the mission of the organization resonate with me?

How does board service help me to explore or fulfill my life purpose?

What will my legacy be with this organization?

My Personal Board Service Purpose Statement: