Sunday, November 28, 2010

who governs who?

The second part of this week's readings discuss the governing boards of non-profits, basically the people who make many of the final decisions on how things go in an organization. I'm glad there was a chapter about this because, frankly, I forgot about this aspect of non-profits completely. I guess because boards are often backstage, you can forget they exist. And that's the point of this chapter: to make boards more interactive with the public so they can be included in key decisions too.

This chapter starts with an example of a closed board and an open board that uses social media. The open board is taken to the extreme, but it's noted that not all board will be able to operate that way immediately (again, long transition period). I like a lot of the ideas presented in this chapter though. Boards do need to be open because they make many major decisions.

The key characteristics of an open board presented in the chapter by the P2P Foundation really hit it perfectly, so I'm just going repeat them:
  • "Anticredentialism, the idea that anyone can participate regardless of their title or position."
  • "Collective choice systems, meaning that hte group makes key decisions democratically."
  • "Communal validation, in which the products and choices of the group are open to public scrutiny and revision."
  • "Open development, which eschews closed doors and hiding places. The entire project is developed transparently."
These characteristics may seem lofty but I think they are doable. It might be hard to start up, though social media makes it much easier, but these practices should be incorporated slowly into an organization's board.

Luckily, the next part of the chapter is dedicated to the "beginning" of governing as a Networked Nonprofit. It lists a bunch of easy steps an organization can take to be more open. This means small things like having a Facebook group to posting agendas online to just meeting somewhere new. It basically means stepping out of comfort zones and utilizing social media/the Internet to its fullest.

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