Nonprofit Board of Directors Paradox

According to The Bureau of Labor Statistics in their annual study on volunteer rates
in the U.S. 71.2% of Americans do not volunteer!

Source: http://www.bls.gov/news.release/volun.nr0.htm

The remaining 26.4% of people who do volunteer have an annual median amount of time volunteering of only 52 hours!

With that number in mind you need to ask yourself a simple and maybe profound question. Assuming that you had adequate instruction on exactly what it was you were volunteering to do, how much could you do in 52 hours annually?

What does this mean?

The reality is that board members on average only really devote around 11 hours per year helping the individual nonprofit board they joined. This is due to the fact that the average executive works 3,000 hours at their “real job”.

This issue alone creates a lot of problems, meaning one has to be realistic as an executive director as to what he or she can expect from a non-paid volunteer.

In evaluating your board ask yourself these questions: How is your board chosen? Do you choose board members because of political influence or based on their ability to “give or get” funding. Do you pick board members who seem to lack basic skill of reading financial statement or knowing how to delegate responsibility? Is you board made up of people who want to “hold hands” seeking to build a consensus or the hard nosed executive types who charge ahead to get things done? What about accountability?

Are poorly performing board members allowed to languish around year after year adding little value to the organization or do you kindly thank them for their service and find more effective board members?

The nonprofit arena is as Webster’s puts it a Paradox – Something apparently absurd or incredible that may be true in fact.