Friday, January 30, 2015

Governance Toolbox: Nonprofit board research reports edition

This week, I share links to two recent reports that may be of interest to nonprofit boards.

Leading with Intent: A National Index of Nonprofit Board Practices -- If you follow nonprofit governance sources anywhere, you've probably already at least seen references to BoardSource's new biennial governance index. Leading with Intent, which reports on data gathered from BoardSource members in 2014, comes with both the full report and more focused resources (including an executive summary). I'm still reading and likely will have one or more published analyses/response soon. In the meantime, I'll share this resource as one large, national effort to gather information on the status of our boards.

I will offer two observations to help provide context as you read. One, this is a survey of BoardSource members. Two, they surveyed both board chairpersons and CEOs. They gathered responses from both for some but not all questions. Pay attention to who is responding to which question as you read the findings. While the two parties certainly share common goals, their specific roles may color how they evaluate board performance in some areas.

Cultivating Greatness in the Boardroom -- You may click on this link (direct PDF download) and ask yourself, "Why is she asking me to review a non-U.S. study of corporate boards?" There are two reasons. First, corporate or nonprofit, I found the five core characteristics they identified to be valuable assets that should be part of every board's recruitment plan. Second, as with so many other corporate governance-focused studies, they don't forget the impact of group dynamics in the boardroom. The list of "Exceptionally bad NEDs (non-executive directors, a corporate governance term)" is an excellent examples of that sector's recognition that plain old Communication 101 factors matter. Deeply. Read that list (p. 14) and tell me you haven't served on a board with one - or several - of those personalities.

I'll keep this toolbox brief this week, since both resources offer a bit of reading and are worthy of careful reflection. You'll find a lot that will resonate, some elements more so than others, in each resource. What can you take to your own board(s) for discussion? How might that information be used to enhance your own board practice?


Marion Conway said...

Hi Debra,

Thanks for the Cultivating Greatness in the Boardroom article. Great advice. I also just posted about the Boardsource Report. Here's my post: How Does Your Nonprofit Board Stack Up? New BoardSource Report Gives You the Tools

Debra Beck, EdD said...

Happy to have the opportunity to share your wisdom on the BoardSource report. Marion. Board members and CEOs benefit from expert interpretations ans recommendations based on resources like this. So important.