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Top five mistakes of boards

By Zac Kester, JD, LLM, CFRM, at Charitable Allies |

In the past few months I’ve received many calls regarding badly behaving boards, and have become aware of at least two Indiana Attorney General investigations into nonprofits. That got me thinking about the top mistakes of nonprofit boards.

I am not going to round up the “usual suspects” in this article — many nonprofit leaders already know about fiduciary responsibility and keeping good records. Instead, here are the “sleeper” mistakes — the top five mistakes of boards that, in practice, often create more damage than the obvious oversights and might not be on your radar:

  • Failing to monitor programming effectiveness or make course corrections
  • Not wrestling with tough questions
  • Board-level confidences are not kept
  • One person or a small group runs the show
  • Executives and inactive board members who are not held accountable

Are you on a board characterized by one or more of these mistakes? If so, you may want to think about starting a board meeting by analyzing one these issues and discuss how to be more effective.

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