I'm particularly looking forward to a conference on nonprofit governance next week where my colleague Drew Mackie and I will run a couple of sessions aimed at helping volunteers serving on management committees and Boards think through their responsibilities and the challenges they may face. As I posted earlier, we'll be greatly helped by a new 10-point plan for running an effective organisation produced by conference organisers, the Foundation for Good Governance
Earlier in the year I worked with a Foundation team led by Christine Morrison on a review of nonprofit governance for the Home Office, and you can see the results blogged here. The review was heavy-weight research, but for the conference Christine and colleagues wanted something a bit more fun. For one session we've developed a governance 'game', in which participants invent tough scenarios then role play solutions. I expect personality conflicts between chair and executive director, misappropriation of funds, unfair staff dismissals and worse.
In the other session we hope to get everyone at the event working out how best to share good knowledge through communities of practice, probably by simulating this with a great deal of milling about with large badges, requests for help and offers of assistance.
The question of how to share knowledge effectively is a rather controversial issue among nonprofits at present, because of the UK Government's ChangeUp proposals for improving effectiveness in the sector. The governance review was part of this, and one key proposal from the Civil Servants is establishment of hubs of excellence. Some people think this could become an excuse for the bigger players in the field to grab new funding and shadow out the others on the training and advice front. I wrote earlier about how this is also causing concerns in the community tech field. Top-down models are attractive for officials and funders, because they only have a few organisations to deal with. On the other hand, the strength of the nonprofit sector lies in its diversity and the mesh of relationships that sustain it. I don't know whether we can play out the options in 40 minutes, but we'll have a go.
Conference details here
Update: event report here