How to Create an Effective Board

  • Posted on: 22 April 2018
  • By: Sarah Vast

Reflections on a Board Governance event hosted by CliftonLarsonAllen and Minnesota International NGO Network


We all love living in Minnesota, with its dramatic April snowstorms, but many of us want to stay connected to global passions. Some find a connection by working in the international sector, others volunteer at organizations like ARAHA, and many more are renewing their MINN memberships.

Another option more people should consider: joining an organization’s Board of Directors. Board service is an excellent opportunity to share your talents, help steer an organization you are passionate about, and develop meaningful relationships that will last into the future.

On April 13, MINN members and friends had a chance to learn more about Board Governance from the experts at CliftonLarsonAllen. Our speakers, Deirdre Hodgson and Carianne Geerts,  walked us through the basics of how to build and maintain a healthy board.

Some of the key takeaways from our MINN attendees:


“I appreciated learning about what you are -- and what you should, ideally, be -- signing up for when you agree to be on a board of directors. The most helpful takeaway was learning the level at which a board should be involved. For the most part, board members should not be involved in the day-to-day minutiae (depending on the size of the organization). I can see applying this knowledge either as a future board member or as a leader that engages with a board.”

-- Alyce Eaton, MINN Evaluation Volunteer

“I have been on an Advisory Board for two years and have avoided being a part of the financial operations. CliftonLarsonAllen provided an easy, harm-free way to familiarize myself with this intimidating topic. I left with a stronger grasp of the financial responsibilities of a board and could bring a few new recommendations for my board, such as, creating a calendar of financial tasks and responsibilities, and developing a whistleblower policy to ensure security.”

-- Alyssa Scott, Advisory Board Member at Leaders of Today and Tomorrow

“One "ah ha" moment for me at the CLA presentation: Give your new board member a high level, board-related, job to do that will jump-start their transition. When elected to serve on the board, long-term volunteers who are accustomed to “hands-on" work may need help transitioning to a "governing" mindset. Provide them with tools to make a successful transition such as a board orientation including a job description.”

-- Sandra Stevenson, Stevenson Consulting


Does this inspire you to consider joining a board? Take a look at recent and future opportunities below:

  • MINN’s board applications will open in late September, but we encourage potential applicants to get to know MINN by volunteering or attending our events. As an added bonus, we’ll also get the opportunity to get to know you!
  • The Iraqi and American Reconciliation Project is accepting applications for new board members to help support their mission of peace and reconciliation.
  • Sierra Leone Foundation for a New Democracy is looking for several new Board Members, hoping to find folks with skills in accounting, website design and maintenance, as well as grant writing. If interested contact: Hindolo Pokawa @ [email protected]
  • First Step Initiative has a board opening for a Board Member who has the skills to hold the officer position of Treasurer.