January 25, 2017

Nonprofit Board Priorities and Effectiveness

Kathleen Yazbak, founder of Viewcrest Advisors and a former Bridgespan partner, interviewed three for-profit/nonprofit board members to gather their perspectives on the similarities, differences, and priorities of corporate and nonprofit boards. Below you'll find links to the interviews with highlights on what our crossover board members had to say about a board's key priorities as well as increasing board effectiveness.

By: Kathleen Yazbak

Talent management should be a priority for nonprofit boards, according to three nonprofit/for-profit board members Kathleen Yazbak of Viewcrest Advisors recently interviewed. Their perspectives below highlight what it takes to be an effective board and emphasize the need for nonprofits to prioritize the development and retention of great talent.

What Nonprofit Boards Can Learn from For-Profit Boards Their objectives are often different, but nonprofit boards can still learn valuable lessons from for-profit boards—and vice versa—says Patti Bellinger, executive director and adjunct lecturer at the Center for Public Leadership at the Harvard Kennedy School.

Raising the Bar for Nonprofit Boards
An effective board—whether nonprofit or for-profit--must invest in and fight for talent, says Len Schlesinger, a professor at Harvard Business School. And, he says, great boards of both kinds engage regularly and systematically with senior leadership, not just when there's occasion to celebrate or solve a crisis.

A Board's Number One Priority: Talent Management
The only thing more important for a nonprofit organization than strategic clarity is having the talent to execute that strategy for lasting impact, says Bridgespan's Tom Tierney. Even more, the best nonprofit boards are exceptionally strong fiduciaries for their organizations' missions and have a shared passion that manifests both inside and outside the boardroom.

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