It’s GREAT having awesome board members passionate about the organization. However, unfortunately, most lack the training needed to govern – does this sound familiar to you? Managing Director Tom Abbott sat down with his friend Ken Bell who has worked with many church boards, to discuss this sentiment and the challenges of nonprofit boards. In fact, this problem is so common it’s the exact reason why we created NPO Academy – to allow well-intentioned board members can get the training they need to be effective in their role.

The Challenges Of Nonprofit Boards

Tom: It’s all about building that community. We need to have this united front and it’s okay to disagree but at the end of the day, if we have voted on something then that’s the decision of the board. And we have to support that 110%. And not undermine. That becomes really problematic for a lot of groups.

Ken: I’ve worked in nonprofit organizations and you have a varying degree of people who have different experience on boards. Some have been a chair of different nonprofits, some have worked in business. Often times in churches, not all the time, you have people with very little or no experience being on board.

They’re wonderful people, they’re gifted people in other ways but you have someone who’s like a carpenter or a teacher or whatever and they have no experience [being on a board] and now they’re in charge of governance and they’ve never been trained in the concept of governance.

You’re making decisions about policy not about wall colours.

Tom: We all know boards are volunteers. They’re volunteer board members and most people when they want to volunteer they want to serve, absolutely they want to contribute. They want to help and they want to do what they feel needs to be done. And in the absence of a governance committee or any governance training they can get lost.

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About Tom (TJ) Abbott

Tom (TJ) Abbott, CSP is the Managing Director of AMC NPO Solutions and an authority on Governance. He has over 25 years experience as CEO, President and board director of several not-for-profit organizations. Tom has also spoken in over 20 countries.


Principles of Complementary Governance Booklet

10 Principles of Complementary Governance