Welcome to Summer 2007

This issue of the Nonprofit Quarterly focuses on governance, and the topic is apropos for two reasons:
• the IRS has recently issued a draft of a new Form 990 that for the first time includes governance-related questions; and
• an independent report on a lack of oversight at the Smithsonian Institution was released on June 20, and it’s a doozy. Like many such forensic reports, it’s a sordid tale of intrigue, self-enrichment, and quid pro quo relationships at the highest level—and all on the public dime. The transgressions involve many of the areas that the IRS has questions about: increasingly problematic interrelationships with business, hidden and overgenerous employee compensation, and conflicts of interest—not to mention whistle-blowing policies. While it is critical for your board to pay attention to this stuff, there is much more to board effectiveness. This issue delves into several of these governance concerns such as the following:
• the inadequacy of standard best-practice prescriptions in addressing board design and culture and in meeting the needs of small organizations;
• the characteristics of highly effective and highly ineffective board chairs;
• the oppositional role of the board;
• the primary responsibility of the board to create the best possible outcomes for program beneficiaries.