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Steal This: The Secret Sauce is Trust

by Jennifer Hutchins

Critical to every nonprofit is the relationship between the CEO/ED and the Board Chair. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised to learn there’s a direct correlation between an organization’s resilience and the strength of this core partnership. Successfully weathering the ups and downs of turbulent times requires good communication, shared interest in the vision and, ultimately, trust.

1. Communication: My board chair has made it clear that he is available for me anytime. He checks in via email at least once a week and we meet in person 1-2 times per month. We each keep a running list of tasks and topics, and organize them around committee goals (e.g. governance, finance, resource development).

2. Vision: We enjoy talking about the organization’s future and inspire one another with new ideas. The other day we sketched out an image (literally on the back of a napkin) of how the organization works and where the opportunities appear.

3. Trust: Knowing that someone has faith in your ability to make decisions and will have your back when times get rough gives you the confidence and freedom to try new things and ask questions to challenge the status quo. My advice? Early on, the board chair and CEO/ED should go on a long car ride to a work-related event–it’s a great bonding opportunity. Worked for me… twice!

But, don’t just take it from me. Check out this article from Nonprofit Quarterly. Someone actually proved it.

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