I am eager to see the end of the belief that there is one set of “best practices” when it comes to boards and governance. Let’s finally agree that governance is extremely complex as researchers are recognizing “the importance of context to our understanding of governance and the work of boards.”
Check out Gayle’s contribution to two new books recently published for the “In The Trenches” series of CharityChannel Press.
When You and Your Nonprofit Board, edited by Terrie Temkin, arrived in our mailbox, we had to read it from cover to cover. Gayle’s contribution, “You’re Not the Boss of Me: the Board Chair and CEO Relationship,” is one of 46 thoughtful essays by America’s leading writers on nonprofit governance. One reviewer says, You and Your Nonprofit Board reads like a conversation among friends, if all your friends were “brilliant and brimming with ideas.”
Have you heard of the 3 Ps of nonprofit boards?
Neither had I until last week.
I was discussing ideas for an upcoming board retreat with the chair of the board development committee. In describing the ideal board member, this trustee mentioned the 3Ps, something he learned from a colleague in years past.
When I asked him to explain, he described the Ps as follows:
• Prisoners are the reluctant board members. They do not come voluntarily to their positions. Most likely they were assigned to serve on the board by the boss at their company. This term might also describe officers coerced into serving.
• Passengers are good enough board members, but they are waiting to be told what to do in order to do more than just attend board meetings. They are usually in the majority on most boards.
• Partners are those board members who voluntarily and enthusiastically take leadership. They act as partners with the CEO and other board members in building the future of the organization they serve.
I told this clearly partner board member this was a really intriguing concept I hadn’t discovered before. With his permission, I wanted to share this with you.
Prisoners, Passengers, Partners, Protestors.
After I got off the phone, I went looking online for the reference.
I found these terms used in the training world where, instead of 3, there are 4Ps – protestors, prisoners, passengers and participants.
Participants are the partners that my client described. Read more
Whatever approach you use to create your nonprofit strategic plan, your board and directors need to be sufficiently involved to ensure their understanding, ownership and ability to champion a plan that increases your impact on your community. Here’s how to do that.
There are many ways to develop your nonprofit’s strategic plan. While it’s hard to say there is any right way to do strategic planning, here are a few elements of the process that I believe are essential to its success.
But what if instead of these solely fiduciary roles, the Finance Committee also facilitated strategic thinking within the Board about the short and long-term financial condition of the organization by: developing a deeper financial analysis of organizational health, developing financial literacy among the directors, analyzing trends, preparing long-term financial forecasts based on different strategic scenarios, bringing strategic financial issues to the attention of the board for discussion and planning
and leading the discussion on key performance indicators for the Board and then revising financial reports accordingly
One or two of your directors can’t attend the board meeting in person but could attend by phone. As much as you dislike this set up, you’ve got some critical decisions that need the quorum they bring. So you connect them by speaker phone. But this participation feels unsatisfying on both sides. What to do?
In a room filled with governance gurus and nonprofit capacity builders, the overwhelming consensus was that our current board model is stuck in the industrial past. We need to constantly evolve – or totally transform — governance structures to be smart, nimble, responsive and adaptive to the new world order of uncertainty and rapid change.
Here, on the other hand, are some of the key principles of a well-functioning board that I have discovered:
– Ideally, the organization should be new and, if not new, should at least be doing something that is new. You can easily test a group’s raison d’etre by attending a board meeting and calculating how much time is spent on matters that, if you had just wandered accidentally into the room, would in no way identify the organization’s reason for existence.