5 Big Questions for Boards: #2- How big should your board be?

Question #2: How big should your board be?

We’re continuing on with our discussion of board development and some of the big questions.  Today, How big should your board be?

Currently, with about a year and a half of work into the ministry, and about a year’s worth of formal board meetings taking place, we have today 11 board members.  5 are clergy, 5 are laity, and 1 is a student rep (who is also of course a laity).  We have yet to recruit a staff/ faculty/ administration member that would make 12.  Is that enough?

Personally, I don’t think so.  But this is a constant debate.  Is there are a rigid number, should we just work with what we have, do we have an ultimate goal, and is the a number that helps to make a board complete or leaves the board in need of further membership?   This question has been on my mind for a while and comes up often.  I have asked persons across the country who have 10, 15, 20, even over 100 board members.

One of the concerns is have is at what level the level of work is so distributed that people aren’t actually motivated to get work done.  But when there is so much work to do by each board member, the burnout rate becomes a factor. Another issue the ability of each individual members.  Certain members might be able to bring a lot of skills to the table, but others might have more specific skills that are very important, but with a smaller board might get overlooked because there are so many roles that need to be filled by each board member that only the “best of the best” can be selected.

As a campus minister, I personally value sharing in the ministry with many persons.  Does this mean that every good person that comes along is a board member?  Does it mean that I want to always have others waiting in the wings?  And all of this leaves me with that big question of the size of the board.

My result is as follows.  Currently, my personal goal would be to have at least 15 members of the board.  I would like a few more, but also recognize problems with that.  Eighteen is my maximum board size I could imagine, but of course I’m still new.  Please provide some feedback as I think this is an important issue and would love to hear from all of you.

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