We are experiencing an unprecedented moment, disrupted by COVID, hurt by the economic downturn, and excited by a renewed focus on racial justice and inclusion. Organizations from all sectors are grappling with tough financial decisions, program realignment responding to multiple crises, and cultural shifts. Navigating this period can test any governing board’s mettle, amplifying strengths, and magnifying weaknesses.
I’ve had the opportunity to work with many boards of directors and nonprofit leaders throughout my career, engaging from different vantage points: as an executive director, a board member, a board officer, and an advisor. What have I learned? Nonprofit (NGO) governance requires dedication, patience, discipline, professionalism, transparency, and adaptability. But you knew that, right? Putting these values to work in governance also can be challenging, even frustrating at times, but doing it right can create breakthroughs that can transform the organization and powerfully advance its goals.
The scenarios described by Bob Bruner and Gerry Warburg’s article, “Governing NGOs: A Challenge in Four Acts” in the Stanford Social Innovation Forum, resonated for me, and their ten best practice recommendations for effective board management reminds us of the critical relationship between governance and impact.