Fixing Nonprofit Governance

To say Simone Joyaux is passionate about fixing problems in nonprofit board governance is an understatement.

Anyone who has heard her speak, read her books, or followed her newsletter and social media posts can bear witness: she holds no punches.

Interviewing this respected nonprofit thought leader was a treat.

Simone believes good governance is critical for achieving a nonprofit’s mission. She states that too many good causes suffer from “governance poorly done.”

According to Simone, misunderstanding both what governance is and its significance is the reason that many nonprofits fail to properly exercise this vital responsibility. Governance, in fact, is much more than just fundraising. Simone further asserts that “governance is a collective activity,” with the organization choosing board members who are both aware of this shared responsibility and capable of meeting it.

As stewards representing a nonprofit’s community of beneficiaries and supporters, board members should be urged to engage in its oversight and guidance. Achieving that engagement requires an organization’s leadership to have positive relationships with its board members and to communicate effectively with them. Naturally, the board’s creativity in addressing challenges should be cultivated.

Simone stresses that ignoring issues facing an organization is not good governance.

Here are five of Simone’s suggestions for fixing board governance:

  • Get the right people as board members through better recruitment vetting.
  • Create performance expectations for board members.
  • Empower boards to perform by creating a culture of performance.
  • Don’t confuse positive challenge with disruption.
  • Address governance-related issues.

Simone’s philosophy and approach for recruiting board members, establishing standards of performance expectation, and even how to “thank and release” them when necessary are detailed in her book Firing Lousy Board Members.

Thank you to Simone for a delightful visit and the opportunity to share her thoughts on improving board member performance and nonprofit governance. (See the Firing Board Members for part one of my interview with Simone.)

Recognizing good governance as essential for accomplishing a nonprofit’s mission will acknowledge it as the priority Simone believes it to be.

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