According to the 2015 study on nonprofit boards compiled by David F. Larcker, Nicholas E. Donatiello, Bill Meehan, Brian Tayan, "Many nonprofit boards need significant improvement. Directors lack sufficient skills, resources, and experience to meet the needs of most nonprofit organizations. Over a quarter of nonprofit directors do not have a deep understanding of the mission and strategy of their organization. Most boards lack formal governance structure and process, and nearly a third are dissatisfied with the board’s ability to evaluate organizational performance. A majority do not believe their fellow board members are very experienced or engaged in their work. The authors outline and recommend practices that nonprofits need to incorporate to improve success." It's not a pretty picture painted by this study. But the research team offers the following recommendations:
Ensure your organization’s mission is focused and its skills and resources are well-aligned with it.
- Ensure your mission is understood and embraced by the board, management, and other key stakeholders.
- Establish explicit goals and strategies directly tied to achieving your mission.
- Develop rigorous performance metrics that reflect those goals and strategies.
- Hold the executive director accountable for meeting those performance metrics and evaluate his or her performance with a sound, objective process.
- Compose your board with individuals with the skills, resources, generosity, diversity, and dedication that address the needs of the organization. This includes ensuring that there is a small group of committed and cohesive leaders.
- Define explicitly the roles and responsibilities of board members to best leverage their leadership, time, and resources.
- Establish well-defined board, committee, and ad-hoc processes that reflect your organization’s needs and context and ensure optimal handling of key decisions and responsibilities.
- Regularly review and assess each board member’s leadership contributions as well as the board’s overall performance. This includes ensuring that board members view their time as well spent.
Here's a link to the study: https://pacscenter.stanford.edu/wp-content/uploads/2016/04/2015-Survey-on-Board-of-Directors-of-Nonprofit-Organizations_Meehan.pdf