“A Chair is still a Chair?” Not in nonprofits!

With all due respect to Burt Bacharach, a chair is not just a chair as far as a board of directors are concerned. In fact, it is clear that a good chair can make the difference between a nonprofit board being on the ball or on the skids. Yet, incredibly, there is not much in the body of research on nonprofit organizations about what makes this critical role work well or not work at all.

So, the Nonprofit Quarterly is thrilled to present “The Best and Worst of Board Chairs,” a practical jewel of an article by Yvonne Harrison and Vic Murray.

Using the insight of board members and executive directors, this piece contrasts the observable characteristics of effective board chairs against those of ineffective board chairs. The information, presented in list form, allows your organization to begin to look more carefully at who you might want to tap for this position and more generally for your board over the long term . . . and who you might wish to avoid. NPQ will be helping the two authors on the next leg of their research. Let us know what you think about these findings to date!

This article is one of several focused on nonprofit governance in this issue of the Nonprofit Quarterly. Others include an examination of the effectiveness of “best practices” in small organizations; a look at the problems caused by having a bunch of deeply flawed human beings as board members; and a remarkable proposal for a new governance model.

In other words, don’t miss this issue. If you subscribe today you will be sent a free digital copy of our governance compendium.

p.s. I have a special request regarding United Way Strategies: NPQ’s National Correspondent Rick Cohen plans to do an article later this year on how the United Way’s fundraising and fund distribution strategies have changed in recent years and the potential impact of that change on local nonprofits. Are their re-organization and rebranding strategies having unanticipated consequences? If so, what are they?  What, in your opinion, does this latest shift promise for communities? Rick is planning a story about how the new United Way strategies are being felt and experienced on the ground. As a first step, he’d like to hear from our subscribers with their stories about local United Way policy changes and their opinions about the effects. We believe that this could be an important story for many thousands of community-based nonprofits across the country, so don’t hold back. Help us shape the analysis: E-mail Rick your stories.