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    Read more about Guidelines for Improving the Effectiveness of Boards of Directors of Nonprofit Organizations

    Guidelines for Improving the Effectiveness of Boards of Directors of Nonprofit Organizations

    (6 reviews)

    Yvonne Harrison, University at Albany

    Vic Murray, University of Victoria

    Copyright Year:

    ISBN 13: 9781942341000

    Publisher: Open SUNY

    Language: English

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    Learn more about reviews.

    Reviewed by Crystal Trull, Adjunct Faculty, University of San Diego on 4/30/21

    This text is somewhat comprehensive in that it covers the different aspects of board service, however more could be added in terms of the legal requirements. This might be difficult because of varying regulations and laws in each country. While... read more

    Reviewed by Dawn Martin, Assistant Professor, Pittsburg State University on 3/31/21

    The authors utilized a medical check-up model and applied it to the effectiveness of non-profit boards. Based on responses to their research-based, "Board Check-up" instrument, they identify "symptoms" of a problem area, a "diagnosis" (potential... read more

    Reviewed by Velda Arnaud, Department Chair, Instructor, and Advisor, Blue Mountain Community College on 1/5/20

    As a board member for one organization and the executive director for another, I was pleased to read and review this book. Having attended many meetings about nonprofit organizations and the roles and responsibilities of board members, I see all... read more

    Reviewed by Anne Douds, Assistant Professor, Gettysburg College on 2/23/19

    This very practical book is more of a practice guide than a textbook, which is quite useful for teaching policy analysis. The authors present the content in clean, accessible language and cover all key aspects of nonprofit board management. I... read more

    Reviewed by Uzma Khan, Professor , MOBIUS on 1/13/19

    This book provides a detailed overview of nonprofit board assessment. Each chapter deals with an important aspect of board effectiveness, and analyzes it in detail. The approach used for analysis is made easier to understand by using an approach... read more

    Reviewed by Julianne Gassman, Associate Professor, University of Northern Iowa on 2/8/17

    The textbook does a nice job of describing the basic roles and responsibilities of a board of directors for nonprofit organizations. All of the basic roles and responsibilities of most boards are discussed. The authors outline a conceptual... read more

    Table of Contents

    • Chapter 1:Introduction
    • Chapter 2:The Board's Role and Responsibilities
    • Chapter 3:The Board's Role in Planning
    • Chapter 4:The Board's Role in Performance Assessment
    • Chapter 5:The Board's Role in Fundraising
    • Chapter 6:The Board's Structure and Operating Procedures
    • Chapter 7:Effective Board Meetings
    • Chapter 8:The Composition and Development of the Board
    • Chapter 9:The Informal Culture of the Board
    • Chapter 10:Leadership on the Board
    • Chapter 11:Conclusion

    Ancillary Material

    Submit ancillary resource

    About the Book

    The purpose of this book is to help boards of directors of nonprofit organizations improve their performance after completing the online board self-assessment tool found at However, it can also be used as a stand-alone resource for any board seeking to enhance its effectiveness in that it also contains the diagnostic questions on which the online tool is based.

    The approach taken here is similar to that which lies behind health checkups for individuals. Doctors usually begin by asking us to review a lengthy list of many possible health issues and we check those about which we have concerns. The doctor and patient then focus their discussions on these issues. The typical process proceeds through the following three stages:

    1. Understanding the symptoms. The doctor and patient begin by trying to define the issues more clearly.
    2. Diagnosis. Effort is made to understand the causes of the problems through tests and further examination.
    3. Treatment. Once the problem has been properly diagnosed, a treatment program to remedy it is begun.

    While the Board Check-Up survey on which this book is based does not pretend to be as scientifically rigorous as a medical examination, it is based on the same logic. It begins by having those who belong to, or relate to, boards provide their perceptions of how well the board is working by guiding them through a list of potential "health issues”, i.e. statements of possible problems, issues or challenges that boards might encounter in their work. These statements have been derived from comments made by those who serve on boards or interact with them as well as from the work of researchers and consultants who have studied boards over the past 30 years. Once issues (symptoms) have been identified, they become the focal point for discussions that explore how serious they are, what might be causing them (diagnosis) and what can be done to resolve them (treatment).

    As noted above, this book is intended to help boards assess performance and make decisions to improve the effectiveness of the governance process. Each chapter deals with one of the nine dimensions of governance effectiveness. It starts with the items dealing with that dimension on the Board Performance Self-Assessment Questionnaire. These items represent the symptoms that indicate possible issues, problems or challenges faced by the board. This is followed by a discussion of possible reasons that such symptoms might exist (diagnosis) The third part of each chapter looks at what might be done to alleviate the symptoms once a diagnosis is made (treatment). Included in this final part of the chapter are references to websites, books and articles that provide additional advice and assistance on how to deal with the issues raised.

    About the Contributors


    Yvonne Harrison is Assistant Professor in the Department of Public Administration and Policy in Rockefeller College of Public Affairs and Policy, University at Albany, SUNY. Prior to joining the Rockefeller College faculty, Yvonne was Assistant Professor in the Center for Nonprofit and Social Enterprise Management at Seattle University, Washington where she conducted nonprofit leadership research and taught courses in nonprofit governance and information management in nonprofit and government organizations.

    Dr. Harrison has expertise in the governance and leadership of nonprofit organizations and the adoption and impact of information and communications technology (ICT) in nonprofit and voluntary sector organizations. Her current research examines questions about the effectiveness of nonprofit governing boards and the impact of online board performance self-assessment on nonprofit governance and organizational effectiveness. Funding for this research comes from the following sources:

    • Institute for Nonprofit Studies, Mount Royal University in Calgary, Alberta, Canada
    • University at Albany Faculty Research Award Programs (A and B)
    • Rockefeller College of Public Affairs and Policy, University at Albany, SUNY

    Currently, she is a member of the Association for Research on Nonprofit Organizations and Voluntary Action (ARNOVA) and Association for Nonprofit and Social Economy Research of Canada (ANSER).

    In 2002, Dr. Harrison was awarded (with John Langford), the J. E. Hodgetts Award for Best Article in Canadian Public Administration (CPA). She is the author of a number of other peer reviewed journal articles, book chapters, research reports, and publications. She holds a Bachelor of Science in Nursing, a Master of Public Administration and PhD in Public Administration from the University of Victoria, British Columbia, Canada.

    Vic Murray is currently Adjunct Professor in the School of Public Administration at the University of Victoria. From 1983 to 1995, he was director of the program in voluntary sector management in the Schulich School of Business at York University, Toronto.

    Dr. Murray specializes in the study of voluntary sector organizations of all types with particular emphasis on the areas of board governance, strategic planning, inter-organizational collaboration, and the assessment of organizational effectiveness. He is also an active consultant and volunteer in these areas.

    As Director of the Nonprofit Leadership and Management Program at York University he developed Canada’s first certificate and master’s level programs in that field. He is the author of many books, articles and papers in the fields of organizational behavior and nonprofit management. His most recent book is The Management of Nonprofit and Charitable Organizations in Canada (LexisNexis, 2009).

    Currently, he is a member of the Advisory Board for the journal Nonprofit Management and Leadership, and active in the Association for Research on Nonprofit Organizations and Voluntary Action (ARNOVA). In 2002 he was awarded ARNOVA’s Distinguished Lifetime Achievement Award. In 1995 the Canadian Centre for Philanthropy awarded him the Alan Arlett medal for distinguished contributions to philanthropy research.

    In 2005, he helped to found the Association for Nonprofit and Social Economy Research of Canada and, in 2013, was awarded its Distinguished Service Award.

    Dr. Murray’s current research interest is a longitudinal study of the impact of the self-assessment of governance performance in nonprofit organizations (see with Dr. Yvonne Harrison of the State University of New York at Albany.

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