BoardSource, the "premier voice of nonprofit governance," has recently published new editions of its Board Chair Handbook and Nonprofit Dashboard. I'll discuss highlights here and link to additional print and online resources. Both books are available at Foundation Center libraries.
The third edition of the Board Chair Handbook by Mindy Werthheimer is intended for current or prospective board chairs interested in carrying out their duties more effectively. The first part of the book explains how the chair can build his/her individual capacity by taking inventory of knowledge and skills, applying them to the board chair role, and creating one's own "personal support system." Succeeding chapters discuss how the chair can optimize the board's work, and also delve into future considerations such as succession planning and leaving a legacy.
One interesting new feature is the appendix "Collective Inquiry: Creating a Learning Community." This section outlines a leadership development model for using this handbook to create a peer-to-peer learning community of board chairs, complete with sample agendas and questions.
Here are some more similar, recommended governance publications published by BoardSource and available at the Foundation Center:
- Board Fundamentals: Understanding Roles in Nonprofit Governance
- Govern More, Manage Less: Harnessing the Power of Your Nonprofit Board
- The Nonprofit Board Answer Book: A Practical Guide for Board Members and Chief Executives
In the second edition of The Nonprofit Dashboard: Using Metrics to Drive Mission Success, Lawrence Butler explains how to create and use dashboards to keep tabs on the overall health of a nonprofit.
What are dashboards? Simply put, they are "user friendly tools for displaying performance measures." Butler discusses the dashboard's role in a nonprofit's planning and evaluation, suggests metrics to use in them, and explains how to design one.
As dashboards are largely visual tools, I found it helpful that he included numerous color figures that can aid the reader in creating an effective, easy-to-read dashboard layout. One excellent example is a sample Monthly Status Report for an art museum that clearly displays data trends for budget, income, visitors, and public support.
Butler also shares some web sites that help with dashboard development and program evaluation:
- Excel Dashboards at Chandoo.org: tutorials, templates, and examples.
- Data-to-Dashboard: blogs, visualizations, and software.
- Theory of Change: helps in the design and evaluation of social change initiatives.