Title

Nonprofit Organizations and Governing Board Assessments

Presenter Information

Meghan KeeneyFollow

Academic Level at Time of Presentation

Senior

Major

Nonprofit Leadership Studies

Minor

Social Welfare

List all Project Mentors & Advisor(s)

Dr. Peter Weber

Presentation Format

Oral Presentation

Abstract/Description

According to Nonprofiit Quarterly, the purpose of nonprofit governance is two-fold: to help achieve an organization’s mission and ensure that the organization can survive (Nonprofit Quarterly, 2017). The board of directors is the governing body of a nonprofit organization and should be a separate entity from an organization’s staff/management. The board is responsible for making decisions related to mission, strategy, and overall goal setting. Boards are typically comprised of individuals with very different backgrounds and therefore are not always equip with the management, leadership, and governance of nonprofit organizations. That being said, assessing governing boards on a regular basis is therefore considered best practice for nonprofit organizations. Assessments should include feedback from all the members’ points of view in order to accurately depict the state of the governing board (Holland & Jackson, 1998). Boards that follow this best practice tend to perform better in terms of fulfilling their mission. Furthermore, they are more apt to understand their responsibilities as a board, more likely to have a strategic plan in place, more likely to measure their impact, and more likely to hold executives accountable (BoardSource, 2017). Only 40% of organizations reported to have conducted a formal assessment in the past two years despite BoardSource’s recommendation to perform such assessments biennially (BoardSource, 2017).

There are many existing board assessment tools available. Some, like BoardSource “Board Dashboard” are helpful to keep up with a board’s performance on a more managerial scale (Lesley, 2017). Others focus on a long-term accountability that is rooted in an organization’s mission and goals such as the three-component model of organizational commitment emphasizing affective, continuance, and normative commitment (Meyer et. al., 2014). This being said, the purpose of this project is to develop and implement an original assessment tool with an established, local organization – Lotus (formerly known as the Purchase Area Sexual Assault and Child Advocacy Center). This assessment tool will combine relevant ideas from existing models including the aforementioned assessment tools with specific questions tailored to the needs of the local organization. The results and analysis of this assessment will assist the participating nonprofit board in their board development strategies. These results will be shared and discussed through a formal presentation with the board during a regular board meeting. The results of the assessment and feedback from the organization will also serve as evidence to other nonprofit organizations that board assessments are not only a useful tool, but a necessary one when it comes to organizational success. The expected outcome is that implementing a comprehensive board assessment tool with Lotus will allow their organization to grow, bring about more intentional approaches to governance, and induce conversation about areas of governance that otherwise would not be given the same attention. As a nonprofit leadership student, this project will also allow for practical, hands-on experience with an established local organization and board assessment practices.

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Nonprofit Organizations and Governing Board Assessments

According to Nonprofiit Quarterly, the purpose of nonprofit governance is two-fold: to help achieve an organization’s mission and ensure that the organization can survive (Nonprofit Quarterly, 2017). The board of directors is the governing body of a nonprofit organization and should be a separate entity from an organization’s staff/management. The board is responsible for making decisions related to mission, strategy, and overall goal setting. Boards are typically comprised of individuals with very different backgrounds and therefore are not always equip with the management, leadership, and governance of nonprofit organizations. That being said, assessing governing boards on a regular basis is therefore considered best practice for nonprofit organizations. Assessments should include feedback from all the members’ points of view in order to accurately depict the state of the governing board (Holland & Jackson, 1998). Boards that follow this best practice tend to perform better in terms of fulfilling their mission. Furthermore, they are more apt to understand their responsibilities as a board, more likely to have a strategic plan in place, more likely to measure their impact, and more likely to hold executives accountable (BoardSource, 2017). Only 40% of organizations reported to have conducted a formal assessment in the past two years despite BoardSource’s recommendation to perform such assessments biennially (BoardSource, 2017).

There are many existing board assessment tools available. Some, like BoardSource “Board Dashboard” are helpful to keep up with a board’s performance on a more managerial scale (Lesley, 2017). Others focus on a long-term accountability that is rooted in an organization’s mission and goals such as the three-component model of organizational commitment emphasizing affective, continuance, and normative commitment (Meyer et. al., 2014). This being said, the purpose of this project is to develop and implement an original assessment tool with an established, local organization – Lotus (formerly known as the Purchase Area Sexual Assault and Child Advocacy Center). This assessment tool will combine relevant ideas from existing models including the aforementioned assessment tools with specific questions tailored to the needs of the local organization. The results and analysis of this assessment will assist the participating nonprofit board in their board development strategies. These results will be shared and discussed through a formal presentation with the board during a regular board meeting. The results of the assessment and feedback from the organization will also serve as evidence to other nonprofit organizations that board assessments are not only a useful tool, but a necessary one when it comes to organizational success. The expected outcome is that implementing a comprehensive board assessment tool with Lotus will allow their organization to grow, bring about more intentional approaches to governance, and induce conversation about areas of governance that otherwise would not be given the same attention. As a nonprofit leadership student, this project will also allow for practical, hands-on experience with an established local organization and board assessment practices.