Board members at nonprofit organizations are too far removed from some of their key governance responsibilities, according to a new survey by the accounting firm Marks Paneth.
Only 15 percent of the 103 nonprofit leaders surveyed said the board closely monitors dashboard performance compared to peer organizations, while only 28 percent indicated board members are highly strategic in providing guidance. In addition, only 29 percent said the board connects the organization to external sources, and 47 percent said board members lend their professional expertise to the board. Only 45 percent said the board closely monitors investments.
On the positive side, 73 percent of nonprofit executives said their boards “have a passion for the mission,” while 61 percent said their boards are engaged but don't micromanage.
In addition, 57 percent of the nonprofit executives surveyed said directors “closely monitor financial expenditures” and 54 percent said board members have “strong attendance” at meetings.
Roughly half the nonprofit executives surveyed said board members follow the overall performance of the organization but fail to look into specific programs.
“It’s probably not an overstatement to say nonprofit leaders love their boards,” said Michael McNee, partner-in-charge of the Nonprofit and Government Services Group at Marks Paneth, in a statement. “However, these executives have suggested they would benefit from deeper or more thoughtful board involvement in key areas of governance and strategy. One solution to get more productive involvement from boards is member training. But our survey suggests that director availability and cost present significant obstacles.”
The majority of leaders said nonprofit directors’ limited time is a roadblock to training, while 48 percent said cost is a deterrent.