Giving Compass’ Take:
• Kim Klein, writing for Nonprofit Quarterly, discusses how a board of directors both creates and reflects an effective organization.
• Are you currently on a board that reflective of its’ productivity and commitment to an organization? What are the best practices to have an active board?
• Read more about effective boards in the Boards and Leadership Magazine.
The direct answer to the question, “Can a board of directors really be effective?” is both “YES” and “That’s not really the question.” An effective board both creates and reflects an effective organization. An effective organization is one that sees all of its parts (staff, volunteers, consultants, board members) as part of an ecosystem, and when each person plays their part and does their share, the system works. When one person does too much or a few people do too little, the system is strained.
Moving away from “can a board of directors really be effective?” to the pragmatic question of “how can a board of directors be most effective?” is beyond the scope of this feature. There are thousands of prescriptive articles (many in the Grassroots Fundraising Journal archive) on how to do this.
But staying committed to creating a healthy board of directors, being a great board member yourself, and working joyfully and eagerly with a board of directors as a staff person means answering a deeper question: “Why should a board exist at all?” For social justice activists, the answer is obvious: the board exists to give community people a voice that has some authority. The communities on whose behalf social justice organizations work have many members who care deeply and have a lot of experience with the issues the organization is addressing, but for one reason or another, tend not to be paid staff. The board of directors is a place for that experience to be put to use.
The question we really have to put in front of ourselves is “Are we committed to having our organization be a site for democratic practice and to reflect the values we are advocating for in the society at large?”
Read the full article about effective boards by Kim Klein at Nonprofit Quarterly.
Boards and Governance is a complex topic, and others found these selections from the Impact Giving archive from Giving Compass to be good resources.
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