We had a remarkable moon the other night. It was a bright red/orange suspended in a dark sky. All around me were the sounds of living in this decade –- car horns, music, teenagers hooting and laughing, dogs selling woof tickets to each other within the safe restraint of their leashes, a group of tipsy seventy year old ladies trading quips with a similarly happy young man but above it all was this undeniable and unshakable presence. Still –- I knew that the moon too was changing –- however slowly.
There is so much we can pay attention to in life and in our work. If you are a small nonprofit, for every one thing you attend to there will be five things you have not yet addressed. Small problems sometimes present themselves as immediate while larger problems loom silently. Many of us will busy ourselves with the press of the immediate but one of the rules of systems thinking is that there are times when addressing just a symptom of a larger problem can cause a worsening of a more core issue.
So it may be with our approaches to governance. There are so many prescriptions out there for boards and half of them are just quick fixes that obfuscate a set of deeper concerns. In some cases the fixes sound like they will work but in the end they do not hold or they make other things worse.
The short article I have linked below is from David Renz and Bob Herman, from the University of Missouri -– both well-known researchers on nonprofit governance. Over time, they have examined the governance systems of a number of health and human services nonprofits. Within that study, they have looked at whether or not installing influential people on your board really gives you a leg up in raising money. Their study is still somewhat limited but its results are stark.
It makes me think that we really should never ignore the moon as we are paying attention to the dogs barking in our immediate vicinity.
This issue of the Nonprofit Quarterly looks at what is emerging on our nonprofit horizons. We have attached summaries of the articles so – if you are not yet a subscriber to our print journal – you can see what you’re missing. Of course, you can remedy that problem by going to http://store.dev-npq-site.pantheonsite.io right now and subscribing! Do it now and you will get a free copy of NPQ’s “best of” issue which contains all of our readers’ favorite articles (just refer to offer “E1” when entering your subscription online.
Meanwhile, don’t be a stranger. Tell us what you think of the attached study or just write and rant. We love to hear from you.