Monday, February 02, 2015

How Does Your Nonprofit Board Stack Up? New BoardSource Report Gives You the Tools

Boardsource  just released the report on its latest  study on Board performance. They asked over 1000 CEOs/EDs  and Board Chairs to complete a detailed survey and in these days when “big data” is king – here it is - all nicely analyzed and tabulated for you. “Leading with Intent – A National Index of Nonprofit Board Practices”  provides important insight into board practices. It is a treasure trove of information enabling you to see how your Board stacks up against similar Boards. 

I recommend that you read the whole report.  You can download it here 

The report is divided into three categories – People, Work and Culture. 

Leading with Intent - BoardSource Report Structure

There is too much data to cover in one blog post so this one just features the results in the “work” category. 

Leading with Intent - CEO and Board Chair Grades for Board Responsibilities

Boardsource asked CEOs and Board Chairs to rate their Boards in the 10 basic areas of responsibility for Boards.  This chart shows that there are some important areas that need improvement: Fundraising and community relations are on every list of desired improvement in Boards.  But equally important are these areas in the middle that are too often neglected: I believe that nonprofits can be much more effective if Boards  took their responsibilities for strategic planning, CEO evaluation and monitoring programs more seriously.  These areas are much more tied to fundraising and community relations that we give them credit for. One of the most important results from strategic planning that I have seen is a dramatic increase in awareness and involvement by Board members with the organization.  Being excited about the strategic direction of an organization equips a Board member with the tools to be involved in fundraising and community relations.  In essence it gives them the belief and the storybook to go with it – the ingredients so often missing to enable board members to be effective ambassadors.

Next lets take a look at this chart:

An interesting question:  In your opinion what are the three most important areas the Board should address to improve performance? 
The predictable:  The Board Chairs and CEO agree that “Strengthening fundraising” is the most important by far.  There is also 100% agreement at 41% that “Strengthen Outreach efforts and act as ambassadors for the organization” is important. 

More interesting:  While 28% of Chairs said “strengthen the approach to strategic planning was one of the most important areas needing improvement, only 17% of CEOs did.  Conversely, while 22% of CEOs thought that Boards should be more accountable, only 12% of Board Chairs saw this as a priority.  Hmmmm.  I quick survey and conversation on these questions would make an excellent board development exercise and a board meeting or retreat.

None of us – individuals or organizations - are perfect.  However, you can use this data for benchmarking your own Board performance and see how you stack up compared to similar organizations. There is data presented in this report by size and type of organization so that you can compare yourself to your peers.

If you are interested in working with me on board development using this report data, please let me know.  I can’t wait to delve in even further.


A popular resource all year long:

2014 Wishlist of Books for Nonprofit Folk

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