Don’t be fooled about boards of directors! (Mar 07)

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This is an invitation to join us in Kansas City in the springtime. It’s very pretty there and on April 26 and 27 we will welcome 150 friends to an event where we will all be fed well and get to argue with one another about boards.

There are good reasons why these potentially rich parts of our organizations do not always work the way we would like them to. For instance, I asked a friend the other day if there was any research on the effect that externally appointed board members have on the way nonprofit boards function.
As you know, this has been part of the problem that the Red Cross has experienced in its now widely-criticized governance system, and lots of other nonprofit boards struggle with this issue as well. Appointed or partially appointed boards developed as a solution to the problem of stakeholder representation and they clearly have some operational flaws, but do we know what these flaws are, or how damaging they might be? Nope.

Why? Because the research on nonprofit boards does not accurately reflect all of the concerns of those of us that have to work with boards as our intimate partners day to day.

And, it’s not just what we don’t know that will hurt us, but what we do know that ain’t so!

When we do get the chance to push back on the prescriptive advice we get from “experts,” we find that tenets such as using a skills matrix as a standard in board recruitment may misfire for many organizations in practice, and that recruiting board members for their connections to money does not correlate to a healthier budget over time.

Who knew?

There are many important questions that have not yet been answered by governance research. That’s why we now extend this invitation to all of you NPQ readers — most of whom are executives of small or mid-size nonprofits — to come to the conference on governance research that NPQ is co-sponsoring with the Midwest Center for Nonprofit Leadership. This extraordinary (and fun) gathering is a great opportunity for you to help shape the agenda for learning on boards of directors (so bring your questions and observations) and to hear the very latest in governance research.

The conference will take place on April 26 and 27 in Kansas City and I am very much looking forward to seeing you in person and talking with you there. The registration is limited so get your name in today! Can’t wait to see you!