Friday, March 27, 2015

Governance toolbox: March potpourri

This may become a monthly tradition: an interesting mix of resources that could prove useful for our boards and board leaders.

Reach for the stars -- I think I've found a new foundational board resource. I've appreciated the Great Boards newsletter since long before it found a home with the American Hospital Association. Thoughtful articles that spotlight higher-level thinking about governance and board leadership are its hallmark. This is a phenomenal example of the kind of reporting that makes this particular publication so special. Author Pamela Knecht describes five key characteristics of high-performing nonprofit boards - characteristics that promise to raise the level of performance and effectiveness when governing bodies successfully create the environments, and recruit the people, to reach them.

The five missing qualities that every board member MUST have -- Susan Detweiler encourages us to move beyond the common attribute-filled board matrices to identify a set of qualities that she says all board members need to bring to the boardroom (and I would happen to agree). I like two things about this post: one, the specific five qualities that she considers essential to anyone sitting on a nonprofit board; and two, the stretch she asks us to make, away from focusing solely on the kinds of skill and demographic criteria that many boards use when they populate their recruitment matrices. I've written many times before about this topic. Susan's post and list are welcome additions to the conversation about what boards really need to perform at their peak.

Building a powerful fundraising board: three things you need to know -- Tuesday's post prompted a welcome exchange with (and gifts from) Alice Korngold, renowned governance consultant and author. In this Huffington Post piece, she offers a balanced and valued perspective on the critical responsibilities of board members in fundraising processes.

Top nonprofit accounting myths busted --  They're myths we've all encountered (and possibly believed) in our nonprofit board service. This post by Paul Konigstein offers clear, concise counterpoints to each of these common assumptions.

The death of the informational meeting -- This one comes from another area of my life - higher education - but the message is germane to the nonprofit sector. It also fits my not-so-hidden agenda to rethink and restructure our nonprofit board meetings. Author Joshua Kim describes three things that should be happening in meetings and three things that shouldn't be happening. I'm more attracted to the "debate" item on the "should" list, and I would expand it to include peer learning and reflection. The "decisions" item on that same list fits the higher ed setting more than nonprofit boards. Believe me, "paralysis by analysis" is more common in that setting than this one. Boards need to not wallow forever, but they also need to not rush decision making. While not uniformly so, in my experience, the latter is more common in many boards. We need to beef up Kim's debate component to feed the decisions that are made, when they are made. Also, note number one on the "should not" list.

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