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Helpful book - surviving a volunteer board?
Old 12-17-2016, 12:29 PM   #1
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Helpful book - surviving a volunteer board?

OK, because I have seen a number of odd requests for help addressed to this group I will add one of my own.

For reasons that escape me, my older daughter has gotten herself appointed to a community landlord-tenant relations board.

I would like to give her a book for Christmas along the lines of "How to survive serving on a volunteer board" but I don't know if such a thing exists. Anyone know of anything like this? It would be especially nice if it were on the humorous side of things.

Thanks in advance.
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Old 12-17-2016, 12:34 PM   #2
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I've seen articles online, and some good feedback here, but not a book.

I'd read it though, I'm finding volunteer boards to be more frustrating than the corporate world ever was! You can buy loyalty, reliability, work output with wages - loyalty, reliability and work output and volunteering don't go together as easily. And pouting among volunteers seems far more common, or at least way more out in the open (affecting many others), than the corporate world.
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Old 12-17-2016, 02:50 PM   #3
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Google it or troll on Amazon.
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Old 12-17-2016, 03:10 PM   #4
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Might be an excellent learning experience of how nuts people can be, and make some valuable business career contacts in the community. Great thing is she can un-volunteer too.
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Old 12-17-2016, 03:19 PM   #5
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Google it or troll on Amazon.
I've been trying and haven't hit on the magic search terms. Too much clutter with the terms I've been using. As Midpack says, there seems to be a lot of online stuff, especially blogs and consultants, but I've not found any books.
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Old 12-18-2016, 12:01 PM   #6
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Long ago, a very wise person told me people associated with non-profits are always in some sort of "process". I can think of no greater waste of my life than serving on a non-profit BOD.

FWIW, all of my big plans to volunteer post-retirement lasted exactly one week. People change. Absolutely none of my plans for activities post-retirement have worked out as planned. And that's been a very, very good thing.
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Old 12-18-2016, 12:26 PM   #7
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Round numbers just for illustration. No idea if it's representative, but what I found:
  • About 75% of board members really worked hard, relatively quiet. The other 25% went out of their way to waste time in meetings, relatively vocal.
  • About 50% believed in consensus and compromise and would support and get behind those objectives, often ill advised.
  • Unfortunately the other 50% were more interested in disparate self serving agendas and spent their time trying to build their coalitions, with nothing to stem that like in the corporate world. Infighting and undermining other board members runs rampant, while outwardly very polite. We have one raging narcissist.
  • Only about 25% ever bothered with researching problems or gathering data. The other 75% already "had all the answers" without data, ignored or rejected data as BS when presented, and defined problems and solutions as if it was still 1970 - that haven't worked since then.
After 3+ years with a board on an activity that I care deeply about, I gave up and quit. Fortunately I'm sure there are boards with people who aren't dysfunctional - I suspect the key is a strong chairperson with a few active supporters. Our chairman was a complete dolt...he's recently been replaced but he's still on the board as an honorary member for two years.
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Old 12-18-2016, 12:38 PM   #8
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When I was on the governance committee of a sizable nonprofit, we read

Boards That Make a Difference

by John Carver. His work is focused on how to effectively structure a board (non-profit or otherwise) to work with the organization's management without micro-managing. This particular book was written for nonprofit and public organizations. May be overkill but it's the only thing that came to mind.
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Old 12-18-2016, 01:49 PM   #9
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Probably too late at this point, but this book gets good reviews.

Before You Say Yes ...: A Guide to the Pleasures and Pitfalls of Volunteer Boards
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Old 12-18-2016, 02:29 PM   #10
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Long ago, a very wise person told me people associated with non-profits are always in some sort of "process". I can think of no greater waste of my life than serving on a non-profit BOD.
Wow. That's a strong statement.

It has been some of the most rewarding work I've ever done. To each his own, I guess.
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Old 12-18-2016, 03:36 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jjquantz View Post
OK, because I have seen a number of odd requests for help addressed to this group I will add one of my own.

For reasons that escape me, my older daughter has gotten herself appointed to a community landlord-tenant relations board.

I would like to give her a book for Christmas along the lines of "How to survive serving on a volunteer board" but I don't know if such a thing exists. Anyone know of anything like this? It would be especially nice if it were on the humorous side of things.

Thanks in advance.
She should take copious notes and then write the book herself
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Old 12-18-2016, 03:54 PM   #12
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She should probably read this:

Wiley: Streetsmart Financial Basics for Nonprofit Managers, 3rd Edition - Thomas A. McLaughlin
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Old 12-18-2016, 05:30 PM   #13
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Ih ave found volunteer work to be unrewarding for many reasons. Sometimes they only want people to do grunt work and while some of that is fine I would like to put my skills to work too. For example, an organization for unwed Moms ran an ad that they needed volunteers to do various things. One of the things the home was trying to do was help them finish their educations and find jobs, etc. I volunteered to administer career and academic tests to help them find a suitable job path, etc and offered my services and the tests for free. I was told that they needed certain positions filled only. They would not even consider what I was offering although it was something that they needed. I have volunteered at animal shelters helping them with fundraising etc but people get really bossy and protective of their territory, etc. In the end it was not worth it.
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Old 12-18-2016, 07:50 PM   #14
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I'm currently on two boards and had been on one more. You have to believe in the cause for it to be worthwhile and your fellow board members have to be in it for the right reasons (I.e. To accomplish something and not just for some ego boost). If it is the right organization it can be a great experience. You learn things. You do things. You do good. If the mix isn't right, it can be worse than work (since there isn't the consolation prize if a paycheck!) - if that's the case, either force the change or get out. Life is too short. But I wouldn't write off every non profit with a broad brush - some truly do good work and being on a board can be a great experience.
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Old 12-18-2016, 08:19 PM   #15
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Wow. That's a strong statement.

It has been some of the most rewarding work I've ever done. To each his own, I guess.
Well I've worked in both for- and non-profits, dealt with their "leadership" and BOD's (and tripped out on egos inherent in both organizational types), hung on that cross, paid my dues, etc., have no further desire to "give back", etc. Again, there's a lot of "in process" stuff going on with all that non-profit "rewarding" business (as told to me by another friend who is a psychologist). Not saying that you are, it's just something I ran into (and saw through) a lot in my travels. Then again leadership in for-profits can run along the same dysfunctional lines as well.

Retirement has joyfully allowed me to move on, choosing only those activities that allow for the highest return on my physical, emotional, and psychological energy invested. My favorite phrase now is "I don't have to...that and the word "no". How is it working? My level of contentment is much higher than a year ago, and exponentially higher than before I retired.

YMMV.

Edited to add: I also very much agree with the last sentence of your post, Dd852.
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