Giving Compass' Take:

• Governing for Nonprofit Excellence (GNE) helped nonprofit organization, Girls, Incorporated, adjust its organizational strategy to better serve its community.

• What impact does high-quality nonprofit governance have on an organization's mission and values? 

• Here are some recommended governance practices for nonprofit boards. 

It’s not out of the question to wonder if the work we do in nonprofit governance is creating change, really impacting the outcomes we seek. It’s also not out of the question to continually ask if the work we do is relevant to the private sector. Are we keeping up with innovation, or is innovation forcing us to modify how we do our work? Having come from the television-news business, I was used to a fast pace, but nonprofits aren't known for their fast-paced, innovative approaches, which, frankly, has its downside. We are doing vital work. We are trying to keep pace - the problems we face have taken decades to evolve. To impact our missions will most likely take just as long.

My nonprofit, Girls Incorporated, for which I am board chair, began out of a necessity of cultural change. The Industrial Revolution found many women and girls forced into workplaces and thrust into positions as heads of households. In order to find commonality and support, at an extremely volatile point in history, Girls Clubs was born. After decades of evolution the work and purpose became refined and the name of the organization changed.

Governing for Nonprofit Excellence (GNE) challenged me to question our innovative strategies. Through GNE, I have been able to understand the relevance of the “Theory of Change,” as it applies to Girls Incorporated. Our organization has undergone a four-step process using the Theory of Change that began in 2010, and we are currently in our last stage. GNE put everything into context for me in a broad sense and acted as a checklist to see if our practices measured up to other relevant case studies. No logic model is perfect, but ours came close.

Read the full article about nonprofit governance by Kay Mathers at Harvard Business School.