Boards are not — and should not — be static. To be effective, they must change and evolve as their organizations change and grow. Many years ago, Karl Mathiasen III wrote a paper for BoardSource in which he identified three different and quite distinct types of nonprofit boards that develop as their organizations grow and change.

While recognizing that various permutations of the three exist, that the board maturing process is not inevitable — organizations may develop differently or boards may stop at one stage or another — and that each board is unique, he noticed that these three very broad types of boards appear and reappear on a regular basis in the nonprofit world.

What follows are brief descriptions of the three nonprofit board types identified by Mathiasen. We present them as food for thought only — not as necessarily best board practice. Do you agree with them? Do they stand the test of time? Do some or all of the characteristics of each hold true in your experience or have other types and characteristics surfaced? Do you recognize your own board in any of them?

Learn more about the Board Passages at BoardSource.