So, one of my gigs in this consulting business is teaching. I’m an adjunct faculty member in the Public Administration Department at North Carolina State University. I regularly teach the program evaluation class. However, I will get a call every now and then to teach a nonprofit class if one of the regular faculty members is on leave.This fall, I’m teaching the Nonprofit Management class and I’m learning some interesting things.
In my last blog post, I talked about the Governance Policy Process and the lack of governance training. We have MPA, MBA and MSW programs that have nonprofit management as components of their curriculum. We are churning out nonprofit professional staff and we are not teaching good governance.
I love teaching because it allows me to see what the academy is doing for the nonprofit sector and it forces me to look at some of the research. I got one of the newest textbooks and it is, for the most part, really good. However, governance is absent. Oh sure, it talks about what an effective board is and some of the models of board governance that have been researched. However, there is no mention in the textbook about board bylaws, the very basic document used to guide boards of directors. It introduces what all good board education material does and says, here are the roles and responsibilities of the board. There are a few assumptions that are overlooked. First, that board members actually know how to prioritize and complete some of those responsibilities. Second, that they do so with a lens of governance and not management. And finally, that completing these roles and responsibilities ensures that they are accountable for the overall success of the organization.
So when the question arises: Why do Boards not know how to govern? I still argue that we are not teaching good governance.
At Partners for Impact we are committed to helping boards understand their role and live into good governance. It requires the board to shift their own mindset from one of management to one that delegates management to a chief executive. It requires discussions about what is valued by the stakeholders of the organization. These conversations can be both difficult and rich. They can set the stage for explicitly articulating the values of the organization which will guide the board and the chief executive.