“Has the Nonprofit Board Outlived Its Purpose?”

To what extent is the current board model useful and functional for non-profit organizations? Last week, Board Member Fran Milsop and Operations/Development Director Sam Collins went to a wonderful event discussing this topic and future of the non-profit board. The event was held at the Maine Maritime Museum and open discussion was encouraged amongst participants. In the course of our time together, we reflected on how the “next generation” will transform the nonprofit board, what we would want to preserve from the current board model and what we envision board changes looking like.

Here are some of the ideas our table came up with:

– Boards should preserve connection to the work by taking part in the work of the organization actively. Board members should volunteer their time at events and programs to fully understand the work and hone their skills.

– Board members should be given a proper orientation by the organization. Though this seems like a simple and obvious step, it is too often overlooked.

– In practice, board members know little about each other; they are united by a common cause, but may not be in the same circles. It is the responsibility of the organization and the board itself to address this problem.

– Technological advances may make it easier to have long-distance board members and Skype board meetings. Whether this is an attractive and viable option is really dependent on the organization. While these new technologies may allow us to save time in many ways, the board may lose opportunities for building camaraderie or staying connected to the work.

This event was particularly relevant for ArtVan, as we navigate through a strategic plan and welcome new directors onto our board.

A huge thanks to the Davenport Trust, Healey & Associates and the Maine Association of Nonprofits for sponsoring and hosting this forum!