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Four obligations: this is what my associate Jeff Wilcox ((Jeffrey R. Wilcox, CFRE, is president and chief executive officer of The Third Sector Company, Inc.) contends are the simple parameters a nonprofit board should follow to be great.

The first obligation is guaranteeing to the community that a resilient organization is at work on its behalf. Fiduciary accountability is just the beginning. Community equity runs a close second. A vote of no confidence in an organization and its leadership can send an organization down in flames while there’s still money in the bank.

The second obligation is making sure an efficient and defined infrastructure of paid and unpaid people are working towards defined results to benefit the community. An organization’s picture of success, whether an annual or multi-year set of stated deliverables, requires a structure that operates within clear policies; and, each element of the structure, including the board, has performance measures to contribute to the organization’s success in accountable ways.

The third obligation is making sure the organization is evolving with the community it serves. The duty is relevance. Not resting on the laurels of the past, integrating technology and new methodologies, stopping old and stale programs, collaborating with competitors, and making sure the faces of the organization resemble the faces of the community being served are just the starting places for demonstrating relevance in a changing world.

The fourth obligation is assuring sustainable human talent and financial resources are in the pipeline at all times for the next generation to carry on. Term limits; a robust leadership development strategy for volunteers, staff and board; a commitment to succession; and clear methodologies, strategies and expectations for everyone to have a defined role in stewarding the financial contributions from the community creates an insurance policy and investment portfolio to face the future.

I think Jeff has done a good job of translating how a board's can live its fiduciary duties (care, loyalty and obedience) while adding some of the dimensions to how these duties are executed (policy, planning and evaluation). Obligations? Maybe if understood as executing the fiduciary duties.

The balance of this article is found here: http://thirdsectorcompany.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/LBBJ-Colum...

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Neighborhoods: What is Working

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