Most directors of nonprofit organizations do not have the required skills, resources and experience to be effective, according to a new Stanford survey of directors of nonprofit organizations.
The Stanford Graduate School of Business surveyed 924 directors of nonprofit organizations. Conducted in collaboration with BoardSource and GuideStar, the surveyed covered areas such as the engagement of directors, their understanding of a board’s obligations, and the governance structures and processes in place to help them fulfil their commitments.
The results show that despite the worthy missions of the organizations and the best intentions of the directors, nonprofit board processes and governance structures, including poor recruitment of experienced board members, undermine organizational success.
Among the key findings:
While having concerns about their fellow board members or some of the processes in place, most directors (92%) are very satisfied with the performance of their CEOs, and a significant majority (85%) were moderately or very satisfied with the performance of their organizations. Still more than two-thirds (69%) of nonprofit directors say their organization has faced serious governance-related problems in the past 10 years, notably being unable to meet fundraising targets (49%). Other problems include serious financial difficulty (29%), unexpected resignations of CEOs (23%) and attracting qualified new board members (16%).
Good governance structures and practices are required to help directors fulfil their obligations to support and advance the organizations they care about. Specific steps recommended by the leaders of the survey team to help directors succeed begins with the organization and its staff:
The next set of recommendations focuses specifically on the board:
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