Critical Board Issues

We believe that we have a leadership imperative to help create change through special initiatives and campaigns that address critical board issues.

BoardSource works with leaders and organizations that represent the full diversity of the nonprofit sector, which gives us a unique vantage point from which to see critical issues and opportunities that we collectively face. When we identify a particular way in which we — as a sector — can strengthen our impact, we believe that we have a leadership imperative to work to create that change through special initiatives or campaigns.

This leadership role is supported and informed by our research, most especially Leading with Intent: A National Index of Nonprofit Board Practices, which is a biennial study of nonprofit board composition, practices, performance, and culture. Through Leading with Intent, we are able to identify challenges and opportunities, as well as benchmark progress over time.

Quick Access:
Visual & Written Info

Key issues BoardSource prioritized as critical
Current initiatives at BoardSource
Written resources: 101, 201, and 301-level

Sign-up to receive our communications; we’re always adding new resources and will send them to you directly.

Key Issues BoardSource has Prioritized as Critical

Advocacy and Ambassadorship: Stand for Your Mission

Challenging boards to be stronger advocates and ambassadors for their missions. BoardSource believes that it’s critically important for organizations and their leaders to pay attention to the policy environment in which they operate and to engage when there are opportunities — or threats — that could impact the organization’s mission. Through the Stand for Your Mission campaign, BoardSource — in collaboration with our partners at the Alliance for Justice, the Campion Foundation, the Forum of Regional Associations of Grantmakers, the Knight Foundation and the National Council of Nonprofits — is working to educate boards about the opportunity for greater impact through public policy, and the important role that boards can play as advocates and ambassadors for their mission.

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

Positioning boards to provide stronger leadership on issues of diversity, equity, and inclusion. As the decision-making body at the highest level of organizational leadership, boards play a critical role in creating an organization that prioritizes, supports, and invests in diversity, equity, and inclusion. Whether in the hiring of the executive, the determination of strategy, the allocation of resources, or the goal of serving the community with authenticity, the board’s leadership on diversity, equity, and inclusion matters. Unfortunately, many boards are not grappling with these issues, which is something that we believe is informed and exacerbated by the lack of diversity — especially racial diversity — on boards. According to Leading with Intent, only 20 percent of all board members are people of color, and a full 25 percent of nonprofit boards are 100 percent white. BoardSource is working on a number of different fronts to build greater momentum around the board’s leadership role in diversity, equity, and inclusion, and will be expanding these efforts in the coming years.

Strategic Alliances and Restructuring

Encouraging boards to consider strategic alliances and restructuring as a strategy for impact. Whether an organization is looking for a way to expand strategically, access new capacities or strengths, or leverage collective resources, BoardSource believes that there’s a tremendous opportunity to unlock new opportunities for scale, efficiency, and impact within the social sector through strategic alliances and restructuring. Together with experts in the field, BoardSource is actively building tools and resources to support boards as they consider how strategic alliances and restructuring can serve their mission.

We encourage you to learn more about these critical issues by visiting our Initiatives page.

Current Initiatives

Written Resources

All 101-level topical resources listed below are available publicly. BoardSource members have access to 101, 201, and 301- level resources. Don’t forget to visit the BoardSource store for more resources and training on this topic.

Advocacy, Lobbying, and Political Activities

201| Members only resource. Advocacy, lobbying, and political activity by nonprofits often are misunderstood. This outline defines the terms and the legal limits for lobbying for nonprofit organizations.

Beyond Political Correctness: Building a Diverse and Inclusive Board

101| Community resource. Exceptional nonprofit boards recognize that diversity is essential to an organization’s success. They see the correlation between mission, strategy, and board composition and understand that establishing an inclusive organization starts with establishing a diverse and inclusive board.

Overcoming Hidden Barriers to Board Diversity and Inclusion: Executive Summary

201| Members only resource. Most nonprofit boards understand the potential benefits of board diversity and inclusion, yet many struggle to fulfill the promise offered. Why is that? We mean well, after all. Are there hidden barriers to achieving this promise?

Public Policy Committee Charter

201| Members only resource. Are you forming a new public policy committee? It will need a charter. Here’s a sample public policy committee charter to help.

Sample Board Posting: Volunteer Board Member (Advocacy Expertise)

101| Community resource. This sample is intended to provide you with a template for developing your board postings and is designed for use with LinkedIn Board Connect. Please customize it to meet your needs.