How much time are you asking for from your board members?

timeI ran across an old board development handout the other day, and it made me laugh. So, I decided to share its essence with you today and ask for your thoughts and opinions. The handout started off with the following two sentences (and I’ve changed the names to protect the innocent):

Of the 8,760 hours that make up a calendar year, ABC agency only asks for 100. These 100 hours, if properly utilized, can help save and/or enhance the lives of hundreds of people in our community.

From this point, the rest of the document actually attempts to breakdown how much time will be spent doing specific things. The following are the categories of activities and estimated hours that were included on the board development handout:

  • 14 hours attending meeting (e.g. board meetings, committee meetings, fundraising events and planning meetings, etc)
  • 20 hours influencing (e.g. advocating for the agency with decision-makers and opinion-shapers such as city council members, United Way trustees, community leaders, business leaders, etc)
  • 20 hours reading and responding (e.g. meeting notices and materials, emails, surveys, etc)
  • 6 hours guiding and planning (e.g. attending an annual board retreat and follow-up planning work session)
  • 20 hours fundraising (e.g. making phone calls, writing letters, sitting down with donors, etc)

They end with this deal closing verbiage:

The 100-hour year comes down to less than two hours per week in support of an organization that is making a vital difference. The commitment we seek is modest, but it is time well spent.

I read and re-read this board development tool and found the following questions floating around my head:

  • How many board members actually volunteer 100 hours during the course of a year?
  • Does the average board member’s volunteer hours really breakout like this tool suggests? If not, I wonder how they spend their time?
  • The phrase “if properly utilized” in the second sentence of the handout sounds like a performance metric for executive directors. Should this be incorporated in some way into a non-profit CEO’s annual performance management plan?
  • Come on! I’ve been in countless board and committee meetings in my life and if there are only supposed to be 14 hours dedicated to those activities, then lots of people are doing something wrong. How many hours does the average board member spend in just board meetings every year?

I’m just getting warmed up with the number of questions that came to mind, but I’m going to stop here because I want to hear what you have to say.
What is your reaction to this board development tool? What questions came to your mind when you read some of this content? If you had to guess, how many hours do your board members give to your agency? If you were given an opportunity to re-distribute these hours and change this tool, what would you change and why?
Please scroll down and share your thoughts in the comment box below. It will only take a minute or two, and we can all learn from each other.
Here’s to your health!
Erik Anderson
Founder & President, The Healthy Non-Profit LLC
www.thehealthynonprofit.com 
erik@thehealthynonprofit.com
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