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The Seven Things that Only a Board of Directors Can Do
By Henry Givray, President & CEO, SmithBucklin

Opportunities abound for associations, professional societies and other volunteer-governed organizations to make tangible and far-reaching contributions to their members, industries, professions and causes. These types of organizations represent communities of individuals who share a commitment, passion and vested interests. Those who also volunteer to serve on their organization's board of directors and committees give willingly of their time, energy, dollars and heart but receive no compensation. Properly harnessed, this powerful, collective human force offers limitless opportunities to advance ideas, take action, drive desired outcomes, create value for individual stakeholders and improve the state or condition of an industry or profession.

However, the inherent hurdles and challenges such organizations face are formidable. By their very nature, these organizations operate in an environment of planned and rapid turnover. They are subject to varying and often conflicting objectives, discontinuous interactions and fragile commitments of time-pressed volunteer board members who are expected to serve as stewards of the organization’s success and long-term vitality.

Many factors will determine whether a volunteer board can successfully overcome both inherent and situational challenges, but one stands out…

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Former WDMA Chairman Tourek on Major Organizational Change
In 2008, Steve Tourek served as the Window and Door Manufacturers Association's Chairman of the Board. It was an interesting time for his industry. The housing boom was showing signs of bust. The economy was about to suffer an historic meltdown, and the policymakers on Capitol Hill were poised to get involved in a big way. WDMA board members were seeing the dark clouds on the horizon.

At the same time, WDMA hired new management to help chart a new course for its future. That course change would come to entail the opening of what Tourek calls a "co-location" in Washington, D.C. Tourek, who today serves as senior vice president and general counsel of Marvin Windows and Doors Inc., recently sat down with Board Forward to discuss the association’s shift in focus to advocacy at the federal level. What follows is our chat…

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Five Considerations for Establishing a Reserve Policy
Reserves, commonly referred to as net assets, are important to build and maintain, but the amount that should be maintained depends primarily on the appropriate assessment of an organization's overall financial risk. A common rule of thumb among non profit organizations is to build and maintain net assets that equal 50 percent of annual operating expenses. While this is a good starting point, there are a number of key considerations that volunteer boards should evaluate when assessing financial risk and ultimately setting a reserve policy for the organization, including: ...
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Good Conflict Makes a Good Board
Each board of directors has its own characteristic rhythm, social rules and level of effectiveness. To this end, it has long puzzled many as to what exactly makes a board effective. In his research, the article's author found that "there is something powerful about the way directors speak to one another, especially when they disagree." His interviews with directors uncovered two kinds of boardroom conflict – cognitive and affective. Each has very different implications for board performance...
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Managing Risk in the Digital Age: Lessons and Tools
Henry Ristuccia, global leader, Governance, Risk and Compliance Services at Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Ltd., recently discussed what risk issues are top-of-mind today for decision makers and boards of directors. Since the depths of the financial crisis in 2007 and 2008, he stated, what has been learned is "risk management programs need to have much more of an outside-in perspective with objective, externally sourced data used for benchmarking and analysis of risks to an organization...
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Board Forward is published 10 times a year by SmithBucklin, the association management and services company more organizations turn to than any other. SmithBucklin has served volunteer board members for more than 60 years.

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