Boards should wake up

Charities need volunteer leaders who add value.

By Todd Cohen

Charity boards should do their job.

Running a charity is a big job for its staff, which can feel abandoned by its board.

The board’s job is to give the staff what it needs so the charity can survive and make a difference.

Yet boards can shirk their duty.

To control charities or foundations they create, some chief executives and families fill their boards with friends who will not challenge them.

And many board members take the job to pad their resume or make business or social connections.

Those board members do not take the time or make the effort to get involved in their charities, or to question and support the staffs they oversee.

Charities and foundations, under fire for wrongdoing and excess at a handful of groups, face huge challenges.

They must do more with less in a tough economy and in a marketplace that demands they be effective and accountable.

Boards can make a difference by investing their time, know-how and money in defining their charities’ values, and using those values to drive the way the charities do business.

Social change in a grim world depends on charities with leaders who add value by getting involved.

Todd Cohen is the Editor and Publisher of the Philanthropy Journal.

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