Ken Goldstein, MPPA

Ken Goldstein has been working in nonprofits and local government agencies from Santa Cruz, to Sacramento, and back to Silicon Valley, since 1989. He's been staff, volunteer, board member, executive director, and, since 2003, a consultant to local nonprofit organizations. For more on Ken's background, click here. If you are interested in retaining Ken's services, you may contact him at ken at

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Full Disclosure in Board Recruitment

Liz Heath, executive director of The Nonprofit Center in Tacoma, Washington, has an article in the Tacoma News Tribune advising nonprofits to let future board members in on whole truth.

This seems like it should be such obvious advice, but it is unfortunately necessary. Many times we're anxious to recruit new talent to our boards, so we soft-pedal the requirements and expectations. Worse, we are not honest about the challenges facing our organizations and paint a rosy picture of fiscal health and sustainability that may not be entirely true.

We do the new member and ourselves a disservice when we operate that way. First we surprise them with fundraising responsibilities that they're not properly trained for, then we hit them with budget realities and possible cuts in services. The new member feels they were lied to, and wonders what else is coming around the next corner. Our relationship with this new member is compromised from day one.

On the other hand, a board prospect who was briefed on all aspects of board service - the rewards and the challenges - comes to the first meeting ready to work, and prepared to take on the tough decisions (and maybe write a check).

Nobody likes to be surprised by additional work or questions they have not had time to consider. Proper preparation and full disclosure makes board life run much smoother and is the key to good governance.

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