Board Strategy for Social Enterprise: Best Practices to Maximize Your Impact

This course is for social enterprises or non-profits that are just starting out and are in the early-stages of forming a board for their enterprises.

A functioning board early on can be a key driver for an enterprise’s success over the long term.  As investors, both Acumen and our course partner, Accion Venture Lab, often sit on the boards of such companies. But more importantly, we support our entrepreneurs through the process of creating the “right” board.

We believe this course will be especially useful for social entrepreneurs of all shapes and sizes – both for-profit and non-profit – at all stages, but by no means limited to that audience. Whether you are an employee of a social enterprise, an impact investor or if you just want to understand a social enterprise’s board strategy, this course is for you.

So please join us, learn best practices, pick up expert tips and think about how to apply these to your own journey!

Our Course Partner

Accion logo

In developing this course, Acumen is excited to partner with Accion Venture Lab. Accion Venture Lab provides patient seed capital and support to innovative financial inclusion start-ups, fostering experimentation and promoting business models that improve financial access for people living in poverty worldwide. As part of their portfolio support for their financial inclusion businesses, they have developed materials titled “Building and Leveraging an Effective Startup Board” and this course is built on that framework in addition to various resources compiled by +Acumen.

You'll Love This Course If

  • You are a social entrepreneur trying to figure out your enterprise’s board strategy
  • You want to understand best practices for creating and managing a board and how it is applicable to your own organization
  • You are a board member of a social enterprise and would like to know what role you could play in maximizing the success of a social enterprise and generate impact at scale

What You'll Learn

By the end of this five-module course, you will be able to:

  • Understand best practices for creating and leveraging the board of a social enterprise
  • Design effective board meeting materials and implement the processes necessary to ensure that the health of your board
  • Walk away with a board development timeline for your social enterprise

Course Outline

This is an introductory level course.

Module 1: The Basics of Board Strategy

  • Become familiar with the structure of the +Acumen course
  • Understand the benefits of a carefully selected, well-designed and well-managed board for social enterprises
  • Explain the role that boards play in providing corporate governance

Module 2: Recruiting the Best Possible Board 

  • Identify and distinguish between board structures
  • Differentiate between a board member and an advisor
  • Recruit the best possible board members to meet the needs of your enterprise

Module 3: Gaining Benefits from Your Board

  • Understand key processes for onboarding new board members
  • Articulate three ways in which you can leverage your board
  • Understand what ‘good board alignment’ entails

Module 4: Running a Board Meeting

  • Explain the basic structure for your next board meeting
  • Implement best practices for running the meetings
  • Set action plans for key items to be completed between board meetings

Module 5: Adapting Your Board Strategy as You Grow

  • Describe how the board typically evolves over the lifespan of an enterprise
  • Understand the 3 approaches for CEO/Chair separation
  • Implement constructive surveys to monitor your board’s effectiveness and the state of your corporate governance

How the Course Works

There are no in-person teachers or facilitators for this course.  And we strongly encourage you to go through the course with other individuals who are interested in this topic. Even if you cannot find anyone within your organization who might be interested in taking this course with you, you can proactively interact with other course participants on the Google+community to learn from each other/impose thought provoking questions and challenge your prior assumptions. (We will provide instructions on Google+community in Module 1).

Course content will consist of readings and discussion activities.

Frequently Asked Questions

Will a certificate be awarded upon completion of the course?

We will provide a Statement of Accomplishment for individuals that complete all requirements.

If I take this course in a group, do my group members need to be in the same location?

We recommend signing up with a group that is all physically located in the same place. Much of the value of this course derives from the in-person, peer-to-peer learning that happens between group members. With that said, we have had groups cover many of the group discussions over Skype or Google+ hangouts so it is possible to have a remote group.

Remember, all members of your group need to individually register for this course.

What is the ideal size for my group?

We generally recommend a group of 2-4 individuals. If your group is too big, it can be more difficult to coordinate schedules and conduct group sessions together for all of the modules.

How much does it cost to take this course?

All +Acumen courses are free.

Are there any prerequisites for taking this course?

This is an introductory course and there are no prerequisites.

What are the technical requirements?

You need a computer that allows you to download our course materials (PDF reading) and the ability to upload your assignments, which will include text reports and images.

More Questions?

Please contact courses@plusacumen.org

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