Does Board Size Matter?

 In Boards, Foundations, Friends

Through our work, we see many different sizes of Boards of Directors for Library Friends and Foundations. Many people ask us if it really matters how big a Board is. We also frequently hear that it is getting more difficult to find and recruit good Board members. What we often find ourselves telling people is this: if you’re a fundraising organization, a larger Board will always be an advantage.

Here are the top ten reasons why you should have a large fundraising Board of Directors.

1) Small Boards micromanage; large Boards rarely do.

2) Small Boards act like a family including airing their dirty laundry; large Boards are better behaved.

3) A fundraising Board needs to have door-openers for fundraising, but all Boards should also have racial and ethnic diversity, age diversity, and gender equity. You can’t accomplish all that with a ten-person Board.

4) It is easier to find committee chairs and populate standing committees with a larger Board.

5) Having a gala? Wouldn’t you prefer to have 40 Board members each filling a table instead of ten Board members doing that for you?

6) A large Board is the way to have representation from all of the spheres of influence in your community: business, philanthropy, country clubs, civic organizations (such as Rotary), religious institutions, former elected officials, etc.

7) Your Board members are ambassadors; the more people in the community who are buzzing about your organization, the better you are perceived.

8) The desire to be on a large Board is greater than the desire to be on a small Board. Prospective Board members believe that a small Board won’t have enough people to get the work done and might be reluctant to join for fear of being overworked.

9) Members of a large Board feel a great sense of pride in the accomplishments of their fellow Board members. This builds loyalty to your organization.

10) A large Board gives all individuals a chance to interact with people with whom they don’t ordinarily associate. If you have a truly diverse Board, you can have corporate leaders, former elected officials, community organizers, and Millennials all sitting together at the same Board table, learning from one another and feeling mutual respect for the strengths and skills each person brings to the Board.

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