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: 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.

Download Report

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.

Download Report

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.

Download Report

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.

Download Report

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.

Download Report

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.

Download Report