As the leading organization focused on strengthening and supporting nonprofit board leadership, BoardSource has been tracking and analyzing trends in nonprofit board leadership practices and composition since 1994, when it launched its first national study of nonprofit boards.

Known until 2014 as the BoardSource Nonprofit Governance Index, this census of board demographics and practices provides important insights into how the nonprofit sector is being governed, who compose our boards, what our boards are doing, and how our boards view their own effectiveness. The BoardSource survey is the only national survey to gather information from both chief executives and board chairs on their experiences in the boardroom.

Leading with Intent: 2021 BoardSource Index of Nonprofit Board Practices

How does your board compare to your peers in its composition, culture, and practices? Who serves on your board? What matters most when it comes to your board’s roles and responsibilities? Explore our key findings such as:

  • Boards are disconnected from the communities and people they serve.
  • Boards that prioritize fundraising above all else when it comes to the board’s role do so at the expense of organizational strategy, relevance, and impact.
  • Boards and executives should reflect on what is prioritized in terms of board expectations and how time is spent.
  • The board chair’s leadership in ensuring that there are clear expectations of board service seems to matter most when it comes to the board’s overall culture.

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Leading with Intent: 2021 Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Findings

As a companion report to the 2021 Leading with Intent report, we took a look at the findings related to diversity, equity, and inclusion to understand to what extent boards are reflective of the communities they are seeking to serve, how boards are thinking about racial inequity in relation to the organization’s mission and programmatic outcomes, and board practices related to diversity, equity, and inclusion. Key findings include:

  • Boards may be getting slightly more diverse, but they are far from representing the communities they serve.
  • Board recruitment practices are not aligned with diversity goals.
  • Boards that include people of color are more likely to have adopted diversity, equity, and inclusion practices than boards that do not include people of color.

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Leading with Intent: 2017 BoardSource Index of Nonprofit Board Practices

Organized into four broad categories, “Leading with Intent 2017” explores the relationship between nonprofit board composition, board structure, board culture, and the way the board does its work. It includes information on board impact and concludes with opportunities for board reflection and action within individual boards. Key findings include:

  • Boards are no more diverse than they were two years ago and current recruitment priorities indicate this is unlikely to change.
  • Strong understanding of programs is linked to stronger engagement, strategy, and external leadership, including fundraising.

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Leading with Intent: 2015 BoardSource Index of Nonprofit Board Practices

To evaluate board performance, BoardSource asked chief executives and board chairs to grade their boards. In 2015, boards earned a B- average, underwhelming results for the top leaders of their organizations and such high-achieving individuals. The findings revealed that boards are generally better at technical tasks, such as financial oversight and compliance, than they are at adaptive work, such as strategy and community outreach.

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BoardSource Nonprofit Governance Index – 2012

In 2012, BoardSource included two independent samples of nonprofit organizations: a selection of BoardSource members; and a national random sample of nonprofits unaffiliated with BoardSource.

Questions were added to the survey that examine boardroom culture, specifically inclusive practices and shared leadership among members.

CEO Survey of BoardSource Members displays frequency information for a sample of nonprofit chief executives who were registered as BoardSource members in May 2012.

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BoardSource Nonprofit Governance Index – 2010

The BoardSource Nonprofit Governance Index 2010 is a rare opportunity to peer behind the curtains of boardrooms across the United States in 2010 and listen to 1,758 nonprofit leaders as they share their experience and perspectives on organizational challenges, governance practices, and board performance. In the interval between the 2007 and 2010 editions of the Index, nonprofit boards dealt with global recession and the new IRS Form 990 requirements.

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BoardSource Nonprofit Governance Index – 2007

The results of the “Nonprofit Governance Index 2007″ survey show that while many nonprofits had put the critical components of good governance in place, there was much room for improvement.

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BoardSource Nonprofit Governance Index – 2004

The “Nonprofit Governance Index 2004″ survey of nonprofit board members and chief executives updated and enhanced baseline data about nonprofit governing boards in the United States that had been collected by BoardSource in 1994, 1996, and 1999. The survey offers nonprofit leaders and the public insight into board composition, policies, and practices in an era when nonprofit organizations faced increasing scrutiny from both the government and the public at large.

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