Community-Engagement Governance

Traditional governance approaches, based on corporate models and outdated, top-down “command and control” paradigms, still dominate the nonprofit sector. Within these models are strong, inherent demarcations between board, constituents, stakeholders, and staff, with the executive director often the only link between the various parts of the organization. This type of separation commonly results in the disconnection of the board and, ultimately, the organization from the very communities they serve, and it inhibits effective governance and accountability. Moreover, the pervasive trend toward “professionalism,” with boards comprised of “experts” who may or may not be engaged with the organization’s mission, has tended to deepen a class divide between boards and their communities. Ultimately, these models prevent nonprofits from being effective—that is, responsive and accountable to the communities they serve.

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