An Open Letter To A Governing Board Member

Greetings Board Member:

We are writing today because recently we’ve been discussing our institution’s engagement of you as a member of our board.  Simply put, we recognize that we have failed you in the following important ways:

  • When we recruited you, we failed to share with you a clear, written position description which included a list of board member expectations;
  • When you accepted a position on our board, we did not provide you with a substantive on-boarding process that included institutional leaders sharing with you their inspirational strategic visions and plans for our institution;
  • We have not provided you (nor your colleagues) with consistent and ongoing education focused on how you can be a more effective board member;
  • We have consistently reminded you to not “get into the weeds” of management, but have failed to provide you with substantive opportunities to do work that is more helpful;
  • We have failed to talk transparently with you about your responsibility for providing philanthropic leadership for our institution;
  • We have consistently prepared board meeting agendas that include too much time for reporting to you and far too little time inviting you to answer strategic questions and discuss generative issues.

We apologize that we’ve failed you in these fundamental ways and, yet, continue to assume and expect that you should give generously every time we ask.  It is this faulty assumption on our part that is most problematic because it causes us to take you for granted simply because you are on the board.  Moving forward, we promise to strengthen our efforts to involve you meaningfully and in such ways so that your giving will be a natural reaction to and reflection of your significant engagement with our institution.

Sincerely,

Institutional Leaders

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