Nonprofit Boards That Work: The End of One-Size-Fits-All Governance

Nonprofit Boards That Work: The End of One-Size-Fits-All Governance

Nonprofit Boards That Work: The End of One-Size-Fits-All Governance

Nonprofit Boards That Work: The End of One-Size-Fits-All Governance


Praise for Nonprofit Boards That Work

"This book offers a refreshing and candid look at the challenges of nonprofit boards. It moves away from theoretical frameworks to take you inside the real world of nonprofit organizations.... A must for any executive director who needs reassurance that building effective boards is tough work, but well worth the effort."-Sherry Rockey, Executive Director, International Women's Media Foundation

"Maureen Robinson is uniquely qualified to help us understand the issues related to boards that are effective, those that are not, and why. It is certain that board members, potential board members, and executive directors who read this book will better understand their roles and responsibilities, and will be better able to avoid common pitfalls. As a result, the impact of their efforts on those whom their organizations exist to serve will be enhanced."-Ron Burkard, Executive Director, World Neighbors

As more than 10 million people in the United States alone say yes to board service, they also expect to see their time and talents used effectively. This invaluable book presents a straightforward approach to understanding the role of the board, tailoring its work to meet the needs of specific organizations, and creating a culture of board productivity that makes participation rewarding for board members as well as the organizations they serve. Nonprofit Boards That Work:
• Distinguishes between theory and practice and encourages boards to explore how they genuinely add value to the work of the organization
• Goes beyond the hows and whys of nonprofit governance to provide frank advice and real-world examples of what works, what doesn't, what requires a miracle, and what can be achieved through diligent and deliberate effort
• Offers practical yet flexible strategies that can be tried by any nonprofit board, whatever its current effectiveness

... and much more to guide nonprofit organizations and their boards toward accomplishing the goals they seek.


Over the years, I have watched many boards struggle to do a good job and I have been impressed by the good intentions and energy that a board will bring to the task. As an educator and consultant, I have experimented with various approaches to nonprofit governance, looking for a system that is flexible enough yet also precise enough to yield consistently good results for every board or almost every board. I am still searching. In the meantime, this book represents an effort to place the solution where I believe it belongs—in the board's desire to do what is best for the organization.

Boards have to shape themselves to fulfill this basic desire, and to test what they do and how they do it against the standard of the organization's best interest. There is no one way to do what's best. Boards looking for a simple formula will be disappointed. There is no perfect board size or committee structure, no foolproof way to separate governance from management. There is no universal template to guide a board meeting, no model job description that will mean enough to every board to get all 15 million or so board members to use it. I believe that people on a board know what's best for the organizations they serve better than any consultant or advisor could, but often fail to understand it or achieve it because they do not take the time to stop and consider the simple but critical . . .

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