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The well-being of any nonprofit organization rests first with its volunteer board of directors. This book offers board members the guidance they need to successfully govern their organizations—no matter what type or size of nonprofit they may lead. Written by Candace Widmer and Susan Houchin, The Art of Trusteeship shows how to fulfill ten key trustee responsibilities and includes much-needed detail on defining a mission, strategic planning, executive selection and evaluation, fundraising, financial oversight, and board self-assessment. This hands-on guide is filled with illustrative case studies and real-life examples that clearly show how a variety of creative boards have tackled challenges and strengthened their organizations.
Posted June 3, 2001
If you are like me, you arrived with no idea of what to do the first time you sat on a nonprofit board. If that board was not well organized, you sat down on your second nonprofit board with about the same level of understanding. Nonprofit organizations, especially smaller and newer ones, tend to be 'amateur hour' operations. They usually have neither good governance nor good management. Unfortunately, they need both much more than most for profit and nonprofit organizations that do have them. The nonprofit organizations that focus relentlessly on improving governance and management do far more good than those who do not. So these are important subjects. I doubt if you can have very good management without good governance first. Governance creates the organizational direction and the discipline that encourages good management. Unless someone is reviewing how you are doing, even the most talented manager will soon become lazy about learning from experience. I recommend that anyone who is on a nonprofit board or is considering joining one should read this book. You will have a much more rewarding board experience if you do. You can also share this book with others on the board, and challenge them to work with you to make the needed changes. I certainly plan to do this with the board I sit on now. By the way, chances are that your board will never quite get to this 'gold standard' described here. But at least you will know what you are and are not doing, and can focus on the more important steps. The book breaks the board's responsibility down into mission, responsibility for money, and for management. Top priority is 'establishing the mission and monitoring the organization's progress in achieving that mission.' This may involve modifying the mission from time to time. This is very critical, because you either have a mission that gets volunteers and donors excited or you are dead in the water. Habitat for Humanity and the Girl Scouts have done this well. The board next needs to create a 'vision for the future of the organization and [develop] a plan for achieving that vision.' After that, the board needs to ensure 'progress in serving the mission of the organization . . . [in meeting] the needs of clients' and in the effectiveness of programs. The board also needs to be sure that the mission and programs are communicated 'effectively with its various publics.' The money side all fits under being a 'steward for organizational resources.' The tasks include having a formal development plan, making an annual contribution to the organization, and participating in fund-raising activities. In addition, risks should be identified and ensured and insured against as best as one can. In the area of management, the board has to select, support, evaluate, (and terminate, when necessary) the CEO. The board has to evaluate its own effectiveness at each meeting, as well. If your board isn't willing to start working on this items, I suggest you consider looking for another board that is. Certainly, you may be in for a lot of heartache if you a join a board that is going to ignore these areas. Create more good by having a more effective board! Donald Mitchell, co-author of The Irresistible Growth Enterprise and The 2,000 Percent SolutionWas this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted February 17, 2009
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