Nonprofit governance

Should Mature Nonprofits Allow Board Micromanagement?

Should Mature Nonprofits Allow Board Micromanagement?

By: Eugene Fram

Viewer Favorite:  Updated and Enhanced

Accepted View of Micromanagement: “…Directors spend more time with the details of the operations instead of planning its short-term and long-term growth strategies. …

The Need for a Micromanaging Board
Board micromanagement is an appropriate approach when a nonprofit is in a start-up stage. Financial and human resources are modest, and the volunteer directors must assume some responsibilities normally executed by compensated staff. The chief executive often has managerial responsibilities as well as a list of clients to service. It is not unusual to promote a person who is only familiar with direct service to become the first chief executive of the organization. In turn , this neophyte manager has to depend on board members for managerial counsel and direction. A culture of board dependency is created out of necessity.


When Should Nonprofits Consider Making A Transformative Change?

When Should Nonprofits Consider Making A Transformative Change?

There is no “quick fix” to some nonprofit problems. A new hire, a board retreat, another task force—all good nonprofit “fixers”—are simply not equal to major challenges that call for transformative change. The evidence of more than one of the following signals suggest the necessity for different and possibly radical action:

• Lack of progress stemming from director micromanagement
• Mission creep or irrelevance of original mission
• Poor morale on board, staff and/or management
• Inadequate outcomes
• Struggle to compete with other similar organizations
• Divisive internal conflict
• Continuing financial and/or client deficits

Over the years I have seen nonprofits bravely taking on transformative change to keep their organizations alive and healthy. In every case, the process has been slow, frustrating and yes, messy! But the rewards have been significant. Here are a few “real world” examples that come to mind: (more…)