The saying about "when the going get's tough, the tough get going" comes to mind when reading a Wall Street Journal article titled: Why Donors Flee when Arts Groups Fail." I think the simple answer: everyone abandons a sinking ship.
But the article notes that nonprofits often have two recourses. The first is a deep-pocketed board member or other philanthropy source that bails-out the organization. The second is to merge with another organization such that the combined resources make for a stronger new organization.
So, for some nonprofits, well-healed board members can really matter. But shouldn't a strong board have seen failure coming well in advance of the need for a bailout? Don't the financials tell some story that can be helpuf. And if not the financials, what about, in the case of the arts, attendance records or the inability to get high-value artists or less obvious, the deteriorating facility or fewer activities? There are many signs that should move a board to action long before the last hope is a well-healed board member. If the last stretch depends on the few, I propose that the board has not been very awake or at least asking the right questions.