Nonprofit boards should always support policies that will allow the organization to drive innovative actions. Following is a list developed from successful for-profits (in italics) that can be easily adapted to the nonprofit environment. *
Having a Succession Plan: This includes two elements: The first is a plan to avoid disruption in the event that he CEO is temporarily incapacitated. Hopefully it allows designating someone internally who may be capable to take the position. However in many nonprofits, I have encountered, the CEO has not developed this staff talent because of budget limitations. When this occurs, the board should have an experienced consultant in mind to fill the position for an interim period. In my opinion, it’s not usually desirable to have a board person replace the CEO on an interim basis. This can tend to blur the line between board and management when the position is permanently filled. The new CEO may hesitate to modify changes instituted by an interim board CEO. (more…)
Do Today’s Business Leaders Make Effective Nonprofit Directors?
By: Eugene H. Fram
The names of the new board nominees have been announced. They include several outstanding recruits from the business community. Will these new formidable directors perform well in the nonprofit environment? William G. Bowen, a veteran director in both the for-profit and nonprofit environments, raised the following questions about such beginnings in a 1994 article:* Is it true that well-regarded representatives of the business world are often surprisingly ineffective as members of nonprofit boards? Do they seem to have checked their analytical skills and their “toughness” at the door? If this is true in some considerable number of cases, what is the explanation?(more…)
How Seriously Does Your Nonprofit Board Take the Matter of Ethics?
By Eugene Fram Free Digital Photo
Most board members are aware of their obligation to ensure their nonprofit’s compliance with certain standard regulations e.g. making tax payments, submitting IRS Form 990s and/or avoiding potential fraud. But what I have found missing in the nonprofit environment is a sense of board member responsibility to provide for and sustain a viable ethics program. (more…)
A Nonprofit Board Must Focus On Its Organization’s Impacts
By: Eugene Fram
“One of the key functions of a (nonprofit) board of directors is to oversee (not micromanage) the CEO, ensuring that (stakeholders) are getting the most from their investments.” * State and Federal compliance regulations have been developed to make certain that boards have an obligation to represent stakeholders. These include the community, donors, foundations and clients, but not the staff as some nonprofit boards have come to believe. The failure of nonprofit boards, as reported almost daily by one blog site, ** shows something is wrong. (Also see: : http://amzn.to/1OUV8J9) Following are some inherent problems. (more…)
In the best of all nonprofit worlds, every director is an independent agent whose ability to make critical decisions on behalf of the organization is regularly uncompromised by outside pressures. This, unfortunately, is not always the case. Based on field observation I have concluded that questionable practices can plague nonprofit boards when social or political pressures are brought to bear on a director. In governance terms nonprofit decision-makers should be “outside directors,” not overtly or covertly susceptible to management or board colleague personal pressures.
Discerning recruitment committees can screen candidates to be certain they are not subject to influences that might impair their judgment as board members. Lack of independence could easily divide and perhaps polarize the board as has happened in our country’s Congress. A candidate who is “sponsored” by a major donor and maintains personal ties with the donor can create a “hornet’s nest” for the recruitment group. There are no easy solutions to these problems. (more…)
Can Nonprofit Management Usurp Board Responsibilities?
By Eugene H. Fram
On balance management will always have more information about the organization than volunteer board members. As a result, directors must be proactive in seeking information from management and a variety of other sources, even if they must involve employees other than senior management. Following are three field examples showing what has happened when boards failed to be proactive (more…)
Maintaining World Class Integrity in a Nonprofit Boardroom: Guides for Action
By: Eugene Fram
There is little question that boards have overall responsibility for ensuring a nonprofit’s integrity. Take, for example, the case of a nonprofit where the former executive director and a board member conspired to steal $4 million of the organization’s funds. While the board did operate within its fiduciary duties and had no personal liabilities, an attorney in the case reported: This does not prevent a state’s attorneyfrom laying blame on the board, however. Although there may be no personal financial loss, the board its individual directors and the organization can suffer significant repetitional loss when integrity issues arise. http://bit.ly/REmSoC(more…)