Wednesday, August 8, 2018

LESSON 38 - Great Boards Delegate Their Reading

Welcome to Lessons From the Nonprofit Boardroom Blog, a 40-week journey through the new book, Lessons From the Nonprofit Boardroom, by Dan Busby and John Pearson. Each Wednesday, we're featuring a guest writer’s favorite snippet from the week's topic. Kent Stroman is our guest blogger this week for the fifth of seven lessons in "Part 11: Boards That Lead and Boards That Read.”

LESSON 38 OF 40 - Great Boards Delegate Their Reading
Deputize a “Leaders Are Readers Champion.”

THE BIG IDEA FROM THE BOOK: Lesson 38 reminds us that great resources for board effectiveness are easily within reach outside the boardroom.

The authors promote the idea of turning the governing body into a “learning board.” And why not? Every worthy endeavor deserves mastery of the basics. Why wouldn’t we hold an equally high standard when it comes to the charitable organizations that have such a great impact around the world? 

MY FAVORITE INSIGHTS from Lesson 38, pages 193-196: 
 G. K. Chesterton’s choice of Thomas’ Guide to Practical Shipbuilding as his #1 pick for a book to accompany him in a most challenging situation.
“The board chair can inspire individual board members to read and report on a helpful governance book.”
• “Learning boards inspire everyone to read the same book prior to the annual board retreat.”
• “… your journey can be enhanced by the books you read (or listen to). Inspire your board to read!”

As I’ve worked with and served on numerous boards, one observation has repeatedly smacked me in the face: Precious few of us have any formal preparation for the task we’ve accepted (serving on a governing board). No wonder there’s so much frustration with the work!

I love the remedy Busby and Pearson offer their readers. The simple practice of targeted reading provides board members with an ever-expanding pool of resources to enrich their service. Further, it deepens the interpersonal relationships of those who serve together to fulfill the mission of the ministry.  

I love this quote from the U.S. Navy Seals, “Under pressure you don't rise to the occasion, you sink to the level of your training. That's why we train so hard.” By being intentional about ongoing board member education, organizations are investing in their own preparation to “rise to the occasion” that will inevitably emerge—at the least expected moment. 


Kent Stroman, CFRE, is a published author, popular presenter, effective consultant and insightful thought leader. His purpose in life is to Equip, Inspire, and Encourage.  Kent is president of Stroman & Associates, a successful consultancy for major fundraising campaigns and board development. More importantly, he is the husband of one, father of three, and grandfather of eight! Kent’s books, Asking about Asking: Mastering the Art of Conversational Fundraising and The Intentional Board: Why Your Board Doesn’t Work . . . and How to Fix It are published by CharityChannel Press and available through booksellers worldwide.

• Appoint a “Leaders Are Readers Champion” and provide a modest budget for the resources needed for the task.
• Choose a book on governance for every member of the board to read in preparation for the annual board retreat.


On Aug. 15, 2018, watch for the commentary by John Walling on Lesson 39, "Invest '10 Minutes for Governance' in Every Board Meeting. We are all guilty of bringing our delightful dysfunctions into every new board experience."

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