BoardSource publishes the world’s largest, most comprehensive selection of material on nonprofit governance. Its six-part Governance Series (2009) is one of their more popular tools and discusses the board’s legal, financial, and fundraising responsibilities, as well as its role in mission, planning and evaluation. The first book in the series, Ten Basic Responsibilities of Nonprofit Boards by Richard T. Engram, aims to “clarify and distinguish the board’s corporate responsibilities and leadership from those of management.”
The latest addition to this series is Ten Basic Responsibilities of Nonprofit Boards: The Companion Workbook (2012) which is intended to serve as a concordance to the original book. To give you an idea of how the two work together, I’ll look at “Chapter 6: Ensure Adequate Financial Resources” in each work.
In Ten Basics, chapter six discusses the two main dimensions of balancing your budget: finding dependable revenue streams and raising private support. Engram talks about how the board can help shape earned revenue as well as its role in fundraising, which can range from identifying potential donors to maintaining cordial relationships with them. It's a very short chapter (4 pages), although it does include a handful of questions the board should ask.
The Companion Workbook offers a variety of additional exercises and questions to amplify the chapter and help the board identify the rules, agreements, and traditions that govern its approach to fundraising. A “Board Culture Assessment” poses 15 yes/no questions such as “Does the board’s fundraising committee organize the board’s fundraising rather than actually doing the fundraising itself?” and “Is there a board-giving goal in the budget?” This is followed by open-ended questions and group activities, such as having board members list 10 people they know who would give $10-$100/$50-$500/$100-$1000 (new donors only) to the organization. The chapter concludes with three case studies posing dilemmas for the reader(s) to solve.
All chapters in the Workbook are handled in this fashion; questions, activities, and case studies that get the group reflecting about their roles and responsibilities. It really gives new life to the series, and being that there are five other titles, let’s hope BoardSource publishes companion workbooks for all of them. The entire Governance Series and the Companion Workbook discussed here are available at all Foundation Center libraries under call number 610 BOA GOV.
For further reading, the Center carries other similar workbook-style board materials: the National Minority AIDS Council’s Board Development (2003) under call number 610 NMA BOA and Hildy Gottlieb’s Board Recruitment & Orientation: a Step-by-Step, Common Sense Guide (2001) under call number 610 GOT. For online resources, take a look at the board-related Knowledge Base Articles in GrantSpace.
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