10 individual trustee skills

As the world, and nonprofit operations, become more complex, the makeup of a tax-exempt board takes on added importance. Gone are the days when a friend of a friend who happens to be available can fill a seat at the table.

During a recent conference sponsored by the Nonprofit Risk Management Center, Melanie Lockwood Herman, executive director of the organization, detailed the need for dynamic boards whose members bring a variety of skills. She emphasized that all the desired skills should be represented on the board. The skills are:

  • Legal experience. To include legal, policy and environmental issues as well as anticipating legal risks.
  • Finance experience. To prepare or oversee and understand the financial activities of an organization.
  • Strategy formation experience. To identify strategic needs and issues.
  • Governance experience. A demonstrable grasp of board practice and principles.
  • Development/fundraising experience. A demonstrated track record of successfully raising funds from individuals, institutions and special events.
  • Information technology experience. Understanding of systems and developments, either through academia or industry.
  • Marketing/sales experience. To provide leadership and coordination of an organization’s sales and marketing functions.
  • Risk management experience. Expertise in analyzing risk issues and identifying practical responses to cope with uncertainty.
  • Human resources experience. To support organizational strategies and ensure effective operations.
  • Industry-specific experience. Including industry challenges and issues, leading trends and practices, as well as a “network” to leverage.