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November Case Study Focus: Board Work

by Jessica Lantos

MANP staff have added and researched new case studies, this month focusing on the work of boards and board members. Below are just a few ideas in our library, a great way to get you thinking on how to carry ou the work of your board of directors.

What makes a good board member? What inspires a board member? How does an NPO move from being a grass-roots organization to one with a viable business model? 

Carefully Recruiting Board Members – More Than Just Filling Available Seats

Engaging the Evolving Board

Adding Public Officials to the Board – Network for Policy Info and Action

Board Advisors Provide Expertise and Increase Sustainability

We are always looking for new, compelling case studies for our library.  For our next deadline, we are researching  stories on organizational collaboration.  If you have a story to share,  please contact us. We’d love to write you up!

One thought on “November Case Study Focus: Board Work

Charlie Bernstein says:

Wonderful articles with useful lessons in each. It might be worth giving some thought to your third question, “How does an NPO move from being a grass-roots organization to one with a viable business model?”

It’s a when-did-you-stop-kicking-your-cat question. It assumes that grassroots organizations aren’t viable and that business models are always desirable. To push back just a little bit, let’s ask:

– Are there any viable models for grassroots organizations – that is, membership organizations that promote leadership from their ranks?

– Is a business model ideal for every kind of oraganization?

There are many effective, long-lived grassroots organizations. A friend of mine is leaving the directorship of one after thirty years (the Tennessee-based Save Our Cumberland Mountains), and the organization is and always has been mission-driven and effective. EqualityMaine, Maine People’s Alliance, and an abundance of labor unions are local examples strong grassroots organizations that are in it for the long haul.

Business models can work for businesses. They can fail, too. Do we want nonprofits to emulate Lehman Brothers or FairPoint? No one argues that businesses should look more like ACORN, yet we’re told repeatedly that nonprofits need to look more like businesses. Business becomes equated with can-do pragmatism and accomplishment. But what about, say, health insurer Anthem and its parent, Wellpoint? They’re certainly models of business pragmatism and success, but how much good are they accomplishing for Maine people?

Whether an organization is a nonprofit or for-profit, the goal should not be imitation, but excellence. Outstanding leaders in one sector don’t become lackluster when they move to the other. Equating business with excellence can put praise where it isn’t earned, and it shortchanges the nonprofits – grassroots and otherwise – that truly deliver.

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