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The Nonprofit Board Answer Book: A Practical Guide for Board Members and Chief Executives Hardcover – July 27, 2007

31 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


Praise for the Previous Edition


“The authors strike just the right balance between theory and practice. The Answer Book is thorough, thoughtful, and comprehensive—while at the same time organized with busy readers in mind. The addition of 25 new chapters turns what was already an invaluable resource into a one-stop toolkit for addressing common board problems. If I could recommend only one book about governance, it would be this one.”--Richard L. Moyers, director, Nonprofit Sector Fund, Eugene and Agnes E. Meyer Foundation


“This new edition is a must for those boards who take seriously the issue of appropriate and excellent board governance. It addresses particularly well the what, when, how, and who issues of boardsmanship and helps set the course for governing rather than administering or micromanaging.”--Ken Smitherman, president, Association of Christian Schools International


“Without exception, this should be required reading for both new and experienced board members and senior management. With 25 new chapters, I can’t imagine there is a question (or an answer) that isn’t addressed in this thorough, but practical, resource. Board meetings will be 25 percent shorter, thanks to this book.”--John Pearson, president, John Pearson Associates, Inc.


From the Inside Flap

What is the board's role in financial management?

How should we select our board officers?

Who should attend our board meetings and what are their roles?

Should the chief executive have a vote on the board?

The Nonprofit Board Answer Book is designed as a guide to good governance for board leaders at all levels of experience and expertise. BoardSource's second edition of its best-selling book shows board members how to be more effective, meet difficult situations head-on, and deal with commonplace challenges with confidence. It shows chief executives how to focus and support the board in carrying out its governance responsibilities. The book is written in an easy-to-use question-and-answer format and includes action steps and examples.

The second edition of The Nonprofit Board Answer Book has been thoroughly updated and includes new material on topics such as

  • Sarbanes-Oxley and its implications for nonprofit boards
  • Executive compensation

  • Mission and accountability

  • Risk management

  • The chief executive–board chair partnership

  • Board diversity

  • Recent legislation, public policy, and ethical considerations

This indispensable resource contains 80 questions and answers—a wealth of information about board structure and process, meetings, board composition, orientation, board-staff relations, financial management, and much more. The book offers insight gained from the BoardSource Governance Index Survey, hundreds of board self-assessments, and questions and challenges heard by BoardSource from thousands of nonprofit leaders.


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Jossey-Bass; 2 edition (July 27, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0787994618
  • ISBN-13: 978-0787994617
  • Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 1.1 x 9.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (31 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #765,625 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
I really liked this book a lot. It includes sound theory and is practical. And it was an easy read. It has 80 chapters broken into 7 sections as follows:

1. Basic board functions (1-12)
2. Board structure (13-22)
3. Selection and development of board members (23-36)
4. Board and committee meetings (37-46
5. The board's role as a fiduciary (47-58)
6. Board-staff relations (59-70)
7. Organizational change (71-80)

Each "chapter" ended with suggested action steps. And I found them to be very informative. It was very well written, but I thought there were too many chapters. I felt kind of like I was reading an online blog.

This is a VERY practical guide or handbook for board members and executives of nonprofit organizations. It is totally consistent with how things at well-run nonprofits work and/or should work. If you are responsible for running a nonprofit organization and and want to know how to do things the right way, then get a copy of this book and take advantage of what it has to offer. It will definitely prove to be helpful unless you are already an expert on the subject matter. 5 stars!
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Christopher B. Sanford on August 20, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This invitation to write a review arrived on the same day that I finished the book. Couldn't have been better timing. If you have worked with non-profit boards for a while, a lot of the ideas here will seem familiar and unexciting. But if you are new to Board service, much of this may be new for you. The advice here is solid and realistic. It recognizes that non-profits (like everything else) are made up of humans, with weaknesses and feelings, etc. It takes these facts into consideration in discussing what to do if a Board member -- or an executive -- is not performing in a way that is good for the organization: it's a difficult situation, but there are ways to approach it.
Some specifics: How do you get good people on the Board? How should Board members interact with staff members? How do you make sure you're not failing in your responsibility to be sure funds are handled right? (What IS your responsibility?)
Almost any question that could come up for you as a Board member is dealt with here, briefly but sensibly.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Andrew C. Ek on June 20, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I picked up "The Nonprofit Board Answer Book" a month or two after being named to (and then elected president of) the board of directors of a small non-profit organization; the organization had been previously mismanaged pretty terribly, so I wanted to make sure I could pick up some good practices.

In that regard, "NPBAB" does its job both very well and not very well; I loved the guiding questions, as well as the outlining of a couple of different accepted practices per major area. However, many of the sections were simply not pertinent to my NPO.

This is not the fault of the book. But I do wish that it had more practical procedural advice on how to, say, transition an executive director (or another first paid employee) from being a volunteer to being salaried (even if that advice was: "consult an accountant and a lawyer, but first figure out these things").

The short chapters were nice, but there were a few instances in which I wanted more substance. That said, this is a good survey of issues and of getting started with practical solutions, and I'd recommend it, as well as perhaps one or two other texts that were more directly pertinent to the struggles of your particular organization.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By John W. Pearson VINE VOICE on May 22, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Peter Drucker, the father of modern management, used to say, "My greatest strength as a consultant is to be ignorant and ask a few questions."

"Behind every good answer lies a good question," says BoardSource in the introduction to this third edition. Now with 85 questions and answers, it's a must-have resource for both new and veteran board members as you inspire them to be life-long governance learners. Suggestion: bring it to every board meeting--and pass it around the room. It will be irresistible to your board members in their search for proof texts!

When you scan the table of contents, dozens of relevant questions will jump off the page--and tempt you to read the crisp, well-written two- to four-page answers. Examples:

Part One: Basic Board Functions
1. What are the basic responsibilities of a nonprofit board?
5. What is the board's role in strategic planning?
7. What is the board's role in fundraising?
9. How does the board avoid the extremes of "rubber stamping" and micromanaging?

Part Two: Board Structure
13. What is the best size for our board?
19. What is the role of the board chair?
21. How should we select our board officers?

Part Three: Board Member Selection and Development
23. How can we recruit active, involved board members?
25. What is the chief executive's role in board recruitment?
30. Should members of the same family serve on a board?
32. What should we do about uninvolved board members?
35. Should board members be compensated?
37. Should individual board members be evaluated, and, if so, how?

Part Four: Board and Committee Meetings
39. How often and where should we meet?
Read more ›
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