On February 4th, 2016, NPQ asked our readers to participate in a small “pulse” survey to surface some areas where BoardSource should ask questions in Leading with Intent, its big biennial survey. That is, we wanted to help BoardSource, our frequent collaborator, to tailor its questions to the current concerns of board members.
Both organizations undertook this small preliminary step, and at that time, we promised to share the highlights of the findings back with you. We received 173 responses, which is a small sample, but as BoardSource describes it, “A ‘pulse’ survey is not designed to be a representative sample survey yielding a comprehensive view. Rather, it is like taking a medical pulse; it gives a rapid measure of health and clues about what is going on.”
Respondents were asked to choose up to three items that do or should most concern boards. We asked about cybersecurity, the regulatory environment, technological change, and a number of other things, but the items of most interest to respondents were:
|General economic uncertainty, increased volatility and shocks||53.42 percent|
|Board representation (youth, diversity and inclusion)||35.62 percent|
|Changing relationships and responsibilities between government, the private sector, and nonprofits||33.56 percent|
|Increasingly competitive environment||29.45 percent|
We also asked respondents to choose the one item that they found most pressing and provide us with detailed individual questions on that item. We wanted to share some of the most thought-provoking of these back with you, as well.
There were very-large-picture questions about how to govern in a changing economic and social era. Themes in the responses include:
- Understanding how demographic shifts and board representation—being led by, for & about the communities we serve (equity & inclusion) play into the impact of economic uncertainty. In other words, we have to look at income inequality and how that plays out for marginalized communities.
- Rapid tech change as it influences wealth inequality from a restructuring of the economy and conservative politics, which I think is THE biggest issue for any nonprofit. The end of work, if you will.
- Again, how can we change the way that we think about board govern