Improve Board Member Engagement by Defining the Role

Nonprofit boards of directors consist of people who are successful, care about the organization, and are often passionate about the mission. Yet, both board members and executive directors often lament that the board is not as engaged and as useful as it could be. To change that situation in your board, start by asking yourself whether you have defined the expectations of the position.

Assess—Don’t Simply Term Limit—the Board of Directors

Should you limit how long someone can remain on your nonprofit board of directors? In William Meehan and Kim Starkey Jonker’s 2017 book Engine of Impact, the authors rightly address this question in the context of board member assessment. That is, term limits are really a way for an organization to shed itself of poor performing board members while side-stepping board evaluations. But requiring board member removal means losing benefits that long-standing board members can bring.

Three Leadership Lessons From the Wells Fargo Scandal

The Wells Fargo fake-accounts scandal led to $185 million in fines, the resignation of CEO John Stumpf, and the firing of some 5,000 employees. In the midst of that fall-out, the company’s independent directors released the results of an internal investigation that provides food for thought for leaders in all types of organizations. Three lessons emerge for leaders seeking to prevent unethical behavior and encourage good decision making within their team, department, or company.

Addressing Climate Change (and Other Human Problems) Through a Hopeful Lens

Given that there is scientific consensus that human-induced climate change is happening and that its effects on humanity will be severe, why haven’t we been able to galvanize society to address this extreme threat? Even more basically, why have so many Americans continued to deny the severity of (or the existence of) climate change? To address these shortcomings, those leading the efforts to address climate change should create and advance a positive vision for the future, that is, a clear, optimistic picture of what the world could look like if we rose to the challenge of addressing climate change.

What State Authorities Oversee Charities? And What Do They Want?

For many charities, state regulatory filings are somewhat of a mystery: who are these regulators, what do they require, and what happens if we haven’t complied? Earlier this year, the Urban Institute and Columbia Law School issued its analysis on State Regulation and Enforcement in the Charitable Sector to try to answer these questions in broad terms. It’s an insightful look into a system that is often opaque.

What History Says About Nonprofit Board Roles

We’ve been wrestling with the functions of nonprofit boards ever since the start of the American experiment. That historical view provides a valuable lens for considering what responsibilities should be expected of today’s nonprofit boards of directors. And starting with a historical look is a fitting kick-off to this new blog, which seeks to distill scholars’ research into quick and useful lessons for nonprofit practitioners.