Organization & Leadership Consulting

What is the Cost of a Poor Performing Nonprofit Board?

two class 66 diesel electric freight locomotives by Freightliner pass Rugby Station

Let’s be honest, most people detest board meetings. In fact, few would argue if you spelled them as “bored meetings.”

Dull as board meetings can be, the situation is really much worse. An underperforming nonprofit board of directors is actually a very expensive proposition. If the meeting are boring, then they are also certainly not doing their jobs as trustees of the organization.

The consequence of such poor boards can be seen in poorly considered decisions. Terrible boards often subtly engender so much pressure to conform that members just go along with bad ideas instead of truly holding open and honest debates over ideas and options. Lousy boards can even contribute to the early demise of the organization because they failed to demand excellence of executive leadership and of themselves.

If you want to pull a long train with many freight cars you need the power of not one, but two Diesel engine locomotives. This same reality extends to nonprofit organizations whose mission demands two expressions of leadership: the professional executive staff hired to do the day-in-and-day-out work and the board of directors who are called to lend their unique expertise to steer and to guide the promised mission. No nonprofit organization achieves its vision without both of these engines pulling their weight.

So why do so few nonprofits invest in making their boards better? In our experience at TurningWest we have scores of stories to tell of such organizations that have nearly died premature deaths because they failed to name their board as underperforming and do something about it.

Boards can be turned around. It takes expertise, not only in philosophies of nonprofit governance and practical operational tools, but also in building sustainable board culture. We at TurningWest have a wealth of education and experience which we have lent to our clients to turn their “bored meetings” into powerful locomotives driving fiercely in pursuit of mission. Call us and let us transform your Board of Directors!


Leave a Reply