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You can find plenty of stories about boards getting things wrong, but too often boards and board members don’t get credit for some important work they do without even realizing they are doing it.
In fact, boards and board members don’t get credit for some important work they do without even realizing they are doing it. Think about it:
- Safety net In a for-profit small business, such a problem would simply bring the company down. But nonprofit boards know that communities and people are hurt when nonprofits fail. Those silent, unappreciated safety nets do their jobs when called upon.
- Speed limits patrolled by aircraft. When people drive down an empty country highway and see this sign, they slow down, even if there don’t seem to be any planes overhead. Even executives who speak contemptuously about their boards end up being more careful because the board is there. When a board member reviews the CEO’s expense report, the CEO is more likely to keep those expenses reasonable, even if that board member signs the report without really looking at it.
- Putting their own bank accounts at risk for staff wrongdoing. By being on the board, board members expose themselves to liabilities that D&O insurance doesn’t cover. (D&O by law can’t insure board members against tax failings or criminal acts.
- Baton relay Boards take the organization back when the executive leaves, find a new executive, and then turn the organization over to that new leader. This is one way to understand executive director departure, and the board’s role in this transition.
- SWAT team in waiting. It’s rare for executive directors to cry “help!” in despair to their boards. We executives like to tell the board about a problem just seconds before telling the board about the solution we have devised.
Read the full list about what boards do right by Jan Masaok at BoardSource.