Too often we ask ourselves “are boards are worth it? Worth all the work, energy and turmoil they often require?”

As a consultant, I’ve immersed myself with case studies, best practices, stats, real life experiences and I know, “I KNOW” boards are critical components of organizational success. Nevertheless, I just can’t help but ask – and if I am really being honest, whine – are they worth it?!

Again, philosophically, I can point out the multitude of articles and data that prove the value of boards. But this week, a great article from the Nonprofit Quarterly made a good point while giving me belly laughs. Perhaps, you’ll appreciate the food for thought. (So, I am not the punster, just had to throw “belly laughs” and “food for thought”. If not a laugh, perhaps it earns me a grin, or at least a smirk?)

Ruth McCambridge, editor at the Nonprofit Quarterly asked “Do you govern your refrigerator?” And she continues, “I buy vegetables and put them in the proper bin where they settle down for the long haul and when I say settle down, I mean settle down. I use all the stuff I can see on the refrigerator shelves, but by the time I go into the bin to figure out what the heck is making it impossible to open the refrigerator door without wanting to abandon the property, the organic matter inside has mutated – in the worst case scenario it has grown fur and is walking around kind of buzzing.

In other words, left to my own devices, I am incapable of governing my refrigerator. My daughter is outraged by my lack of vigilance in this regard but – c’mon! I forgot it was there! That is why I need others around me, especially when I have some responsibility for something that is meant to serve the needs and interests of others."

I realize that all this may be TMI, but my point is that when we are helping to lead something complex, many of us get very focused on one realm, while another realm shape shifts inside the bin where we don’t normally look. This is why we need a board of directors to provide the level and diversity of challenges that a nonprofit needs to keep itself true to its constituents.

Anyway, that was my argument.

The Nonprofit Quarterly has excellent and provocative viewpoints of the philanthropic landscape. Read more at: http://www.nonprofitquarterly.org/.

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