Is Your Nonprofit’s Board of Directors Not Ready to Govern?

Yesterday, I was once again confronted with a question that I often ponder: are there some nonprofit boards of directors that are not yet ready to govern and that simply have to function as working boards? The idea comes from trying to apply John Carver’s concepts that today are commonly referred to as International Policy Governance to a very young organization (sometimes defined as having very few or no paid staff).

Carver’s approach to board governance speaks only to the board and (in a paraphrased manner) identifies the board’s roles as defining the ends, limiting the means, and staying out of everything else. If we could only have a model that spoke to the roles of both the nonprofit’s board and staff, we could potentially identify roles for volunteers on both sides of that organizational relationship.

When we are able to identify both nonprofit board of directors and staff volunteer roles, up to and including that of the executive director, we can once and for all dispel the “myth” that if you are paid, you are staff, and if you are a volunteer, you must be on the board. This myth gets in the way of “young” (in age or in development) organizations from allowing some volunteers to work as board members and some volunteers to work as staff members.

If an organization can define and align both board and staff roles from the day that they are established, their board can fulfill the governing role that every nonprofit board of directors in the United States of America is required to fulfill; to govern their organization.

Aligned Influence ® is the organizational model that provides defined and aligned roles for both the board and the executive director and their staff.  The Aligned Influence ® model provides the structure that allows both young and well-established organizations with a structure that permits them to begin their journey toward further development today; not sometime in the future. To learn more about the Aligned Influence ® model, go to

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