The Impact of Good Governance
Good governance of nonprofit organizations means that nonprofit boards fulfill their public trust by knowing and doing their jobs. Good governance is critical to ensuring that nonprofit organizations are effective and that they are able to maximize resources on behalf of their constituencies.
The following examples highlight what happens when boards and their members clearly understand and actively embrace their responsibilities:
Effective governing bodies ensure that the organization's mission is clear, appropriate and relevant as times change.
- As the first step in developing their strategic plan, the board of a camping organization reviewed its mission statement. In light of the changing needs of the increasingly diverse group of at-risk girls from urban neighborhoods who participate in the organization's summer camp activities, the board re-focused the organization's mission on the specific needs of its target population. As a result, the board identified the need to review the range of activities for the girls, ensure adequate resources to support its programs, increase staff and recruit new board members.
- The board of an after school program for high school youth recognized changes in their program's environment and undertook a review of their mission. This reexamination of the organization's mission in light of the changing needs of the youngsters resulted in a revised mission statement that addresses social as well as academic needs of the students. The process served as a springboard to provide a greater variety of services that are more responsive to the students' increasing range of needs.
- A social services agency that depended heavily on government contracts found itself constrained by changes in demographics and reduced funding. The board undertook a strategic planning process which led to changes in programmatic direction and the identification of new audiences for services. The board used the strategic plan to set the pace for operational changes. The board also established a standard of participation for each board member in fundraising for the organization.
Effective governing bodies continuously monitor their organization's programs and activities to be sure they are aligned with the organization's mission and achieve their short-term goals and long-term purpose.
- The board of a symphony orchestra helped the organization accomplish its mission more fully by identifying strategies for expanding its audience which have been successfully implemented by the staff.
- The board of a church set in motion a review of its community outreach program. It had given small grants to a large number of very diverse programs. By increasing the size of the grants and focusing its efforts on a limited number of critical needs where church members could volunteer, the outreach program achieved more focused and effective grantsmanship and volunteer involvement.
- The board of an HIV/AIDS service organization arranged a workshop for board and staff to review the agency's programs, providing meals and other services to people with HIV/AIDS and their families. The process reaffirmed the value and importance of the programs and the individuals' involvement in them.
- The board of an agency program dedicated to improving self-esteem of urban youth via workplace experience arranged for one of its members, an expert in internal audit procedures, to help the staff learn planning skills and assessment processes and how to apply them. This led to better evaluation - and thus improvement - in their programs.
- A domestic violence service organization recently added to its board several individuals who had previously been clients to ensure that programmatic decisions reflect the concerns, values and needs of those served. These board members are enthusiastic spokespeople for the organization and have enhanced its public profile by helping to generate widespread interest in the work of the organization.
Effective governing bodies exercise fiduciary responsibility to obtain and appropriately use the resources required to carry out the organization's mission and sustain it.
- A center for learning enrichment held a board retreat to discuss and establish fundraising expectations for individual board members resulting in increased funding.
- The board of trustees of a church established an investment policy with withdrawal limits to ensure that the intent of donors and the institution's mission are better served.
- Financial experts sitting on the board of an elder advocacy organization used their knowledge of the legislative process to assure that proposed state financing for a senior assisted-living facility was appropriately structured.
- Board members of a youth services agency used their financial and marketing experience in fundraising for the organization, improving its ability to serve at-risk youth.
Effective governing bodies regularly evaluate the Executive Director's and their own performance in achieving the organization's mission and goals.
- The board of a Special Olympics program called on one of its members, a lawyer, to structure term limits for their board. The board approved the plan and they are now working to assure that the board will regenerate itself with "new blood."
- A community center's board initiated a yearly assessment of the Executive Director and established specific goals with her to increase her effectiveness as a manager.
- The board of a collaboration of community organizations established a Governance Committee to plan for succession, orientation and ongoing training, resulting in greater commitment to the organization.
Terms Of Service |
VCG Governance Matters®, 55 West 39th Street,12th Floor, New York, NY 10018
t 212-447-1236 f 212-447-0925
Copyright© 2006-2011 VCG Governance Matters. All Rights Reserved.
Powered by the Action Potential Non-Profit Web Toolkit.
Source code and editors Copyright © 2001-2013 by Action Potential Networks Inc.. All rights reserved.