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News and Views

BoardSource 2017 Report

October 4, 2017

Posted in: WATSON Views

BoardSource has released Leading with Intent 2017, a report on nonprofit board composition, practices, performance and culture. The report surveyed nearly 1,800 chief executives and chairs from a broad cross-section of the nonprofit sector. The organizations surveyed are primarily registered charities, most of which are based in the United States.

The BoardSource report has several key findings:

  • Boards are not happy with their own level of diversity, but are not changing their recruitment priorities to address this
  • While boards are starting to embrace their role as advocates for the organization’s mission, most boards lack a formal policy around advocacy
  • When boards understand their organization’s programming better, they are more engaged, more strategic, and more involved in fundraising
  • Boards that regularly evaluate their own performance reported better performance scores than those that have not assessed themselves within the past two years
  • When a board understands its role, and when it can work as a cohesive team toward shared goals, it can have a significant positive impact on organizational performance.

These results align with the views and experience of the WATSON team in our advisory work to nonprofit organizations. WATSON believes that:

  • Boards that understand their purpose, and that stay focussed on it during board meetings and when making key decisions, leave the most marked impact on organizational performance
  • A more formalized governance framework – written policies that document the processes and procedures for how the board gets things done – provides directors with clarity on what their job is and how to do it
  • Regular and mindful feedback – from both formal evaluations and as a part of regular meeting practices – are critical board exercises. (Yet when asked, directors commonly report that evaluations are rarely done well, if at all.)

We would be pleased to share more of our governance insights with your board. Learn more about our evaluation process or feel free to get in touch or pay us a visit. Let’s talk about how we can help your board take a more intentional approach to governance.