Good intentions or intentionality: Which describes your board of directors?

By Steve Sauer, senior manager, BKD |

Most historians agree the form and function of today’s board of directors began around the advent of the 20th century. English authorities decided the ultimate authority in a company was vested in the board of directors, and the nature and extent of its authority was to be enumerated in the articles of association (or incorporation).

So after 100 years of practice, these boards have evolved into exceptional governing bodies presiding over their organizations … right? Not exactly.

According to a January 2015 study conducted by BoardSource, boards of not-for-profit organizations are not as close as they think to achieve the pinnacle of effective governance. On the contrary, the study reveals that, on average, not-for-profit leaders give boards a B- in overall performance. It would appear, then, that in our age of constant political, economic, regulatory and demographic changes, significant improvements are necessary — even vital to the health of the not-for-profit sector as a whole.

BoardSource, a 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to advancing the public good by building exceptional not-for-profit boards and inspiring board service, supports, trains and educates more than 100,000 not-for-profit board leaders from across the country each year.

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