A New Year…A New Chance for a Stronger Effective and Productive Nonprofit Board

David A. Mersky imageTonight—if you are reading this on January 3, 2012—begins the formal portion of the quadrennial, but, truly, never-ending quest for the Presidency of the United States. For the next ten-plus months, we will hear about leadership and its importance.

Regardless of your politics, even if you are one of our overseas subscribers, we are all in agreement that leadership is the single most-important element of the success of any venture. We have written about it in many ways and many places. In our Organizational and Development Assessment, there is a brief essay on Why Now is A Great Time to Fundraise. In that piece we say:

Strong, compelling cases that answer the question, “Why should I give?” presented by weak leaders face an uphill battle. But you can raise a lot of money even for a mediocre case if the leaders are passionate. The bottom line is that people are ultimately more important than the case, and donors are considerably more likely to invest their philanthropic dollars when they believe in and are inspired by an institution’s leadership. Your job is to motivate leadership to do the things they may least be inclined to do.

Governing boards, whatever they may be called, are the valuable steering wheels of nonprofits and are responsible for fulfilling their varied and worthwhile missions. To help your nonprofit organization advance and grow, it is critical to develop a stronger effective and productive nonprofit board. Such a board is potentially your most important instrument — both for strengthening the organization and for raising money.

In the coming months, we will dedicate the first Tuesday to a full-blown consideration of the governance and leadership development process in the nonprofit organizational setting. The key obstacles to an involved, concerned, participatory governing board are the absence of a:

  1. written rationale for the existence and role of the board;
  2. studied design for the composition criteria of the board;
  3. regular on site/in-house orientation;
  4. clear statement of the function of individual board members and the board as a whole; and/or
  5. management control and evaluation of the board and its members by the board itself not only the chairperson of the organization and its Chief Executive Officer.

In addition, on Wednesday January 18, at 3:00 PM EST, I will host a one-hour webinar on Leadership Engagement—The Key to Capacity Building. You can register for this webinar—and check out other free webinars by visiting https://merskyjaffe.com/knowledge-archive/webinars/.


Assuring the Best in Nonprofit Management: The Committee on Governance and Leadership Development