With a firm pulse on industry trends, board members can better achieve good governance, lead their organizations into the future and serve the nonprofit’s mission.
Guide your organization in the right direction by keeping a mindful eye on the following:
1. Growing Need for Improved Communication and Transparency
A 2013 study from Deloitte and the Society of Corporate Secretaries and Governance Professionals “shows that board members are really working on enhancing their interactions with each other and with shareholders, which goes along with wider trends related to facility of communication.”
Today, many boards communicate via email, mailed notices and memos. Yet, this form of communication can distance board members, and leave room for oversight and misinterpretation. The result is muddied responsibilities, lack of accountability and unclear goals among board members—all of which can then trickle down and surface in external stakeholder communications.
The study cited 35% of boards having taken steps to encourage more transparent, open communication in 2013—up 5% from 2012. We suspect this trend to continue into 2014 in the face of economic and federal budget uncertainty, which could lead to increased scrutiny from donors and the public on the use of funds and ROI.
2. The Diversity Divide is Still Very Real
Nearly 80% of corporate and nonprofit board members said that less than a quarter of their boards are composed of minorities or women.
Vernetta Walker, vice president of consulting and training at BoardSource expresses her concern about the stagnancy of board diversity in an Association Now article: “What we have seen over the last 20 years is that it hasn’t changed a lot… About 20 years ago [nonprofit boards] were 86 percent Caucasian, and in our 2012 Nonprofit Governance Index, that number dropped to about 82 percent.”
These statistics are troubling to many. Diversity among board members provides nonprofits with differing viewpoints, extended networks and varied experiences—all of which help the organization better serve its mission.
Now is the time to tackle the lack of board diversity. Strategize ways to make your board a more inviting and open atmosphere for all races and genders, and reap the benefits.
3. Technology Opportunities Abound; Benefits Plentiful
With the prevalence of technology today, it is hard to find an industry that has not been affected by it. Nonprofits are no exception.
Social media, mobile, analytics, big data and the cloud are just some of the technology trends that nonprofits need to keep a close eye on as they devise strategies.
As technology evolutions continue to permeate the nonprofit landscape, so too do opportunities to better connect with donors and stakeholders, cultivate awareness and create organizational operational efficiencies.
Board members need to keep pace, and demand nonprofit executives to research technology as a way to improve existing outreach and processes. Do the research. Ask smart questions, and ensure your organization doesn’t get left behind as technology moves full speed ahead.
4. Fraud to Become Easier to Detect
Impending grant reporting changes are not isolated to grant managers. New regulations being reviewed in the Senate would also affect boards and how they should govern.
With greater regulation expected and more eyes watching where federal funds are spent, boards’ fiduciary responsibilities increase.
While it has always been the board’s job to make sure that the organization is financially accountable, legislation will make it easier than ever to detect fraud and misuse of federal funds. To maintain compliance and guarantee future funding, nonprofits must build their operations on honest business practices and the efficient use of funds—this starts at the top.
What trends have you noticed? What is your board doing to keep ahead of the curve?
Download our ebook, Maximizing Board Engagement and Effectiveness, for strategies on how to keep your board motivated and engaged in 2014.
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