Our new study: COVID’s impact on boards

Wondering about COVID’s impact on nonprofit boards? Then take a look at our new report, How COVID affected nonprofit board practices.  It is based on a survey of 119 nonprofit board and staff leaders at dozens of organizations in Connecticut, Rhode Island and Massachusetts.

We collaborated with our colleague Mike Burns at BWB Solutions to survey each of our clients and followers on how nonprofit boards have responded to disruptions cause by COVID since the shut down in March.

Changes in meeting format

The most striking COVID impact on board practices reported was the rapid transition to online meetings. Board meetings via video conferencing were rare before COVID, but are nearly universal now. About a fifth of respondents expect to continue all virtual meetings after COVID restrictions end. Up to half expect to use some hybrid of video conferencing and in-person meetings in the future.

Changes in practice

While the majority reported little or no change in the board’s overall effectiveness, a sizeable minority said that board work had improved since the onset of the crisis. A number of respondents reported that their boards had put fundraising and planning projects on hold during the shutdown.

Future expectations

We thought we would see some panic about COVID’s impact on boards and the nonprofits they serve. While almost equal numbers reported the likelihood of reducing or expanding programs or operations, board members tended slightly more to reductions while CEOs leaned slightly toward expansion. Very few expected to go out of business or merge with another nonprofit.

Recommendations

Mike Burns of BWB Solutions co-authored the report with Gayle L. Gifford and Jon Howard of Cause & Effect, Inc. We recommend that boards and executives reflect on what they can learn and adapt from changes in board practice since COVIC. We further call on boards to challenge all core assumptions to better prepare for future disruption.

Download the full report as a PDF here.

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