Tag Archives: nonprofit boards

Never Can Say Good-bye

There’s an old proverb that it takes one person to throw a stone in a well, but ten to get it out.

I think the nonprofit equivalent is that it’s vastly easier to start a program than to end it.

Here’s what I mean. Let’s imagine a small community-based social services organization. It was founded twenty years ago to provide services for families with teen mothers. The agency focused in the early days on home visits and other support services by social workers and volunteers, designed to help ensure the babies’ safe and healthy development.

The organization gained a reputation for effectiveness, and soon there was encouragement from families, local government, and donors to create a childcare center for these and similar kids. So the organization built the childcare center and later expanded it. It became a well-respected and important community institution.

So far, so good. Then things got tricky. Continue reading

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Goldilocks and the Three Boards

As fairy tales go, “Goldilocks and the Three Bears” is fairly benign. She’s not eaten by a wolf. She isn’t fed poisoned apples. The worst thing that happens to Goldilocks is that she wanders into a house where she doesn’t belong. She escapes without injury. And she apparently avoids charges of criminal trespass, despite the unauthorized taking of porridge.

Let’s imagine that instead of sneaking into the home of the Bear Family, Goldilocks had barged into an office complex housing multiple nonprofits. A bright if somewhat mischievous girl, Goldi would have discovered that not all nonprofit governing boards are the same. Indeed, some boards are too hard; some boards are too soft; and some boards are just right. Continue reading

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Building the Right Board — Or Not

Do you want to build a great board of directors for your nonprofit? Sure! But it’s harder than it looks.

Even if you recruit terrific people, which of course is not easy, that’s no guarantee that you’ll have a high-functioning board. A lot of boards turn out to be less than the sum of the parts.

There are many possible reasons for board underperformance, but one may be that your organization has recruited the wrong combination of individuals. Here are three traps well-intentioned nonprofits fall into in their board recruitment. Continue reading

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