One response to “Some New Nonprofit Board Models”

  1. It’s impossible to be brief in commenting on all of the points mentioned under the models. But one common recommendation seems to be for boards to adopt a wider perspective or scope, and to make board membership more inclusive of staff or members. In my experience the concepts are not so very new — perhaps they’re being recycled under new names or nuances. Many nonprofits long ago adopted such approaches where it made sense.

    It’s also important to evaluate the premises asserted for each of these new models. If the premises apply, then it’s appropriate to consider possible ways of addressing the shortcomings identified.

    But there are likely to be a number of tradeoffs in changing to pursue any of the listed models, including dilution of focus, additional time required of board members, enlargement of the board, diversion of scarce financial resources, etc., which militate against such changes. Most nonprofit board members already give all the time and resources they can to the organization, while receiving no pay for their time and commitments. Often, they are large donors. A board quickly becomes unwieldy with too many members, too many reports, too many areas of operation, too many goals and ambitions, too many chiefs, etc. Similarly, funds simply may not allow such changes.

    While there may be need for improvement in those nonprofits that suffer under the leadership problems specified as premises for the new approaches, it is not likely that all nonprofits are actually suffering under their current models. Thus, “new” is not necessarily “better.” Any of these proposed “model” must be evaluated in the real world context of a particular nonprofit’s operations.
    In the abstract, it’s not clear that any one of them would guarantee delivery of greater good to its community.

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