Tag Archives: advice

Nonprofit Arts Board Members, Executive Directors, and Staffs: Has Your Board Been Assimilated? Have You?


Board membership for a nonprofit arts organization is a privilege. It requires commitment of time and money.  It requires the urge to change things for the better.

It’s not for self-aggrandizement.  It is not about being thanked endlessly.  It’s not about banquets, galas, and being fed.

It’s a job.

Group thinking can be inspirational, but “groupthink” can poison your organization’s health.  When your board only votes unanimously, for example, or the newly-approved mission is just reverse-engineered to current activities and reduced to pabulum, you may no longer have a board.  You may instead have a Borg.

Borg members wait for orders.  They don’t debate.  Resistance is futile.

The Borg is powerful.  Borg Presidents lead by autocracy.  Borg Queens (often founders) drive staff away by insisting the organization’s activities revolve around them. Borg Drones atrophy.

Board or Borg?


Kibitzing is the Road to Hell for Charitable Organizations: “You know what you SHOULD do…”

Kibitzing.  Webster’s definition:  “watching other people and making unwanted comments about what they are doing.”

Good intentions (egad).  Some people pay for the privilege via their donation or board service. My mother believes it’s her birthright.

For arts charities, kibitzing mainly involves comments, programs, and activities that are unsupported by research or any evidence of success.

Instead:  come with solutions rather than problems.  Shortfalls are as unintentional as bad art.  No one intends red ink or a lousy play with bad acting.  But rather than more bake sales, auctions, galas, or (egad) a “give-a-million-dollars-or-we’ll-go-bankrupt-on-Tuesday” campaign; rather than creating a program committee (because anyone can pick plays) or a marketing committee (because anyone can market the arts), work with your ED toward real, verified solutions.

The road to hell is paved with kibitzers.  The road to bankruptcy, too.

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