Edited by Andrew J. DuBrin
Chapter 16: Preventing and managing leadership crises in nonprofit organizations
When major crises occur in nonprofit organizations, the board of directors often has to assume an enlarged leadership position to move the organization out of the crisis. But the varied composition of nonprofit directors’ backgrounds, the different types of nonprofit boards (e.g. hospital vs. trade associations) and the range of capabilities of the directors to resolve crises can vary greatly. Board compositions vary because nonprofit board members frequently come from quite different professional, ethnic and political backgrounds. Nearly all are uncompensated volunteers whose primary interests are in their full-time occupations. Many look at their board service as an avocation, which also benefits the nation, community or industry. This diversity can hinder decision-making when the group faces a sudden or evolving leadership crisis. From a staff relationship perspective, the majority of board members serves for time-limited periods (usually two three year terms) and can be viewed by management and staff as being “temporary leaders,” who often may have little practical experience with the direct services offered by the organization. For example, an accountant can serve on the board of a health agency, with little knowledge of the internal challenges of the agency.
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