How Long Should Board Members Serve

Is it better to have long-time board members who have stayed with an organization for many years and understand its history?

Or is it better to bring in new members regularly and generate fresh ideas? BoardSource surveyed more than 1,300 nonprofit organizations to find out the latest trends in its 2017 report Leading with Intent.

Should board members have term limits? The answer to this question has fluctuated over the years, but there’s generally an upward trend. In 1994, 63% of nonprofits had term limits for their board members. Currently 72% of nonprofits have adopted the practice.

Term limits make it easier for an organization to bring on new talent and leadership. Organizations evolve over time and their needs change. Making sure the board is aligned with these evolving needs is crucial to the health of an organization. With the right strategies, a nonprofit can make sure its board has the right skill sets, perspectives and networks to meet these changing needs.

Of the 1300 organizations that responded to the Leading with Intent survey, 42% limited board tenure to two terms and 61% set their term length to three years.

How Long Do Your Board Members Serve?

What policies has your organization adopted concerning the tenure of its board members? Have you changed your approach over time? What factors did you consider in your decision? Have you ever reversed a decision about the tenure of your board? Please share your insights in the comments below. We’d love to hear what works.

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