The Mikuska Group  

Governance is not a dirty word

If you work in a nonprofit or charitable organization, or serve on a board of one of these organizations, chances are you’ve tackled the notion of “governance”. The very word is enough to make people’s eyes glaze over and have them scrambling for the exits.

Yet when done well, governance contributes to the overall health and sustainability of the organization. It’s not just about “bums in seats”, but requires all board members to be active participants in discussion and decision-making.

A healthy board:

  • has a strong chair who facilitates conversation and discussion
  • has members that come to each meeting prepared to voice opinions
  • has everyone attend meetings having read the reports and minutes
  • tolerates dissent but speaks with one voice
  • can make decisions in a timely matter because quorum is met every time

An unhealthy board:

  • has a dominating or weak chair who is ineffective in facilitating discussion
  • has members who don’t participate or who remain silent to avoid controversy
  • has members who dominate the discussion
  • has members who come unprepared; unable to contribute because they are not up to speed
  • has instances of “sidebar conversations” outside the meetings that don’t involve the entire board
  • has “rogue” board members who act contrary to the will of the board
  • has difficulty reaching quorum due to non-attendance of board members

Funders are increasingly making decisions about where to invest based on the health of your board. Which type of board would you rather have?

Laura Mikuska


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