In this six-part, weekly series, Gary Bernstein, the CEO of the Jewish Community Alliance of Northeastern Pennsylvania, outlines and discusses the various and important roles the board and staff play in nonprofit organizations.
In a nonprofit organization the CEO works for the board, and the working relationship and mutual support between the board and CEO is critical to the success of a nonprofit. There might be an impression that the traditional workings of boards, with its usual job descriptions and committee structures, is somehow a rigid, top-down chain of command, but this often is not the case.
In many nonprofits, it is actually the CEO who facilitates and guides the board members to do their jobs. The CEO provides valuable input to the deliberations and decisions of board members. Best practices suggest a successful working and strategic partnership between the board members and CEO is one of the most important elements for a high-performing nonprofit organization.
Working with boards of directors is a lot like the story of the three bears. Some were way too hot, some cold and some were just right. It is repeatedly said you get the board you deserve. Often times, you just do the best you can with the hand you are dealt. It would be a lie if it were said all nonprofit board chairs were just right. However, most executives would be considered lucky if they had a number of board chairs that were respectful of their lead role as agency head.
Executives and board chairs would discuss and debate issues behind closed office doors, but when the bell rang and the board meeting started, they would come together as a united front. Like in any relationship, executives and board chairs must work at it.
Though the nature of various nonprofit organizations may differ, what is common is they all work towards serving people and to strengthen the community so this world will be a better place for everyone. In this series, we will outline and discuss the various and important roles the board and staff play in nonprofit organizations.
Stay tuned next week for “Key Function Areas in Nonprofit Organizations.”