Leading with Intent Blog Summary (Part 1 of 2)

Renae Oswald-Anderson, Partner BoardSource recently released Leading with Intent: 2017 Index of National Board Practices.  More than 1,300 nonprofit organizations and 1,700 individuals responded to the survey that has been conducted nine times since 1994.  Both nonprofit executives and board chairs are asked to respond to the survey. To read the entire report go to www.BoardSource.org

The findings that intrigued me most include:

Board composition impacts strategy and decision-making.

The lack of diversity (racial, geographic, and age) may result in blind spots and strategies that don’t match the needs of the consumers/program participants/ clients.  One’s perspective and lived experience impacts how we as individuals make decisions. This is also true of boards. Having the right people on the board helps shape organizational strategy.

Strong understanding of programs is linked to stronger engagement including fundraising. 

Providing regular opportunities for board members to deepen their knowledge about your organization’s work and the current environment is critical to strengthening the board’s strategic decision-making process as we strive to be innovative, impactful, and inclusive as leaders and as service providers.

It only stands to reason that when board members are both passionate and knowledgeable about service delivery and community impact they make better fundraisers. Who doesn’t want board members raising money for your organization?

Boards that build in self-assessment perform their core responsibilities better.

The study indicated that boards recognize and even prioritize performance assessment. However, the study revealed that only 40 percent of boards had conducted a performance assessment in the last two years. Given the increasing complexity of the essential responsibilities of board governance, creating opportunities for intentional and thoughtful discernment about roles and responsibilities is a strategic investment of a busy community leader’s time.  The two items that mattered for board chairs and chief executives was the board’s ability to work together as a collaborative team and their understanding of board roles and responsibilities.

My next article will share findings regarding Board Basics such as board size, use of standing committees, term limits, board meeting quality and the role of the board chair that were tracked with this year’s Leading with Intent. You can see how your organization measures up.

I am looking forward to seeing leaders in the nonprofit sector from around the country at the upcoming BoardSource conference in Seattle, October 19-20.  No doubt I will have more to share upon my return!