Governance advice with a familiar ring

A recent issue of the Association of Theological School’s Colloquy online newsletter included advice gleaned from a nine-month long project focused on governance challenges at 21 member schools. A quick read through and I was ready to shrug off the findings as providing nothing new. Which, in fact, is what the author of the Colloque […]

Nonprofit boards aren’t as inept as the headlines suggest

The online nonprofit press is abuzz over the 2015 Survey on Board of Directors of Nonprofit Organizations, with headlines suggesting nothing but bad news. However, after digging into the report for myself, I’m here to dispute the board bashers. The survey results (at least as I read them) simply don’t support the sorry soundbite summaries. […]

Board self-assessment in three easy questions, but not so easy answers

Over the years, I’ve noticed an odd psychology to board self-assessment. Leadership hopes for a glowing report or, at the least, more praise than criticism. Yet when the outcome is as wanted, there’s grumbling from some around the board table about time and money wasted on a bunch of happy talk. Apparently there’s not much […]

Breaking ranks with consensus thinking about consensus

Many a boardroom discussion is prolonged in hope of achieving unanimity on an important decision. And nonprofit CEOs and board chairs are often chosen and evaluated on their skill as consensus builders. In fact, if there’s a Holy Grail of the nonprofit sector, it’s full consensus. But not so fast, cautions an article in the […]

Governing with seat belts fastened

The advice from the cockpit to keep our seat belts fastened in case of unexpected turbulence applies as surely to the boards of faith-based nonprofits as to the passengers with me this past week on a cross-country flight. Although the skies through which nonprofits fly these days are far friendlier than those a few years […]

10 habits at the heart of exemplary board governance

In a recent article, I pointed board members who fancy themselves as difference makers in the direction of the board development committee. My reasoning? No organization will be stronger than its board, at least not in the long-term, which makes helping to build a strong board the most important work a board member can do. […]

Donors may not care about results, but boards should

“Despite years of claiming the contrary, donors still don’t really care about nonprofit performance or impact.” In fact, as blogger and student of philanthropy Tim Ogden reports, a majority of donors believe there “isn’t much difference between nonprofits, that any giving is good, and performance measures are a waste of time and money.” For all […]

Two strategies for improving your board’s fiduciary behavior

Once upon a time, minding your board’s fiduciary P’s and Q’s consisted of dotting organizational I’s and crossing legal T’s and little more. But no longer. Or so say the members of an august panel of governance veterans featured in the March/April 2013 issue of Trusteeship magazine. As they tell it, fiduciary stewardship stretches well […]

When building a board, look for the helpers

“Look for the helpers. You’ll always find people who are helping.” Following the bomb explosions at the finish line of the Boston Marathon on Monday (April 15), this comforting word from Fred Rogers has popped up again on social media sites. Our favorite neighbor was referring, of course, to advice from his mother about dealing […]

When building a board, look for the helpers

“Look for the helpers. You’ll always find people who are helping.” Following the bomb explosions at the finish line of the Boston Marathon on Monday (April 15), this comforting word from Fred Rogers has popped up again on social media sites. Our favorite neighbor was referring, of course, to advice from his mother about dealing […]