Cultures of Nonprofit Trusteeship: What Lies Beneath?
By Jeffrey S. Simonoff and Rikki Abzug
Nonprofits tend to think about boards in a way that assumes that they are nonporous entities—a kind of standardized form with few variations. But the opposite is true: nonprofit boards of directors are deeply influenced by any number of “silent” factors beyond whether they happen to adhere to commonly agreed-upon standards of governance.
These conversations become especially important in the context of the persistent lack of racial inclusiveness on nonprofit boards and the frequency of splits between nonprofits’ boards and their constituents. Unexplored structures and their underlying narratives may need to be excavated and re-chosen for their value or rejected for their lack thereof before real changes vis-à-vis boards can be realized.
Lately, there has been a great deal of conversation about how democracy is imperiled by some of the ways in which philanthropy and nonprofits interact with the public, but the concerns raised about creeping plutocracy via philanthropy, and what some call thenonprofit industrial complex, are not at all new. But they, along with other critical questions, have been plowed under.
Read the full Nonprofit Quarterly article.
Jerry S. Simonoff is a Professor of Statistics.