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Factors that Enhance the Nonprofit Board-Executive Relationship

Year: 2023

Presenter Name: Jaxon Didericksen

Background: Literature on nonprofit leadership shows that the executive director (ED) and board relationship is crucial to the organization's success (1,8,10,14). The literature seeks to develop nonprofit governance models and define roles (2,3,4-5,7,11-13). The ED-board relationship has scant empirical evidence, including how to maintain it. Purpose: The present study targets youth-serving nonprofits in Utah and seeks to describe factors that enhance the ED-board relationship by answering the question, ""What factors positively enhance the relationship between the executive director and the board?"" Methods: The study applied a mixed-methods design, employing surveys and semi-structured interviews from March 2022-July 2022. Participants were EDs and board chairs from 6 organizations. Descriptive statistics were generated. First, descriptive coding and then pattern coding were used by two investigators to analyze transcripts (9). Findings: Six executive director-board chair pairs participated in the study. The average age of EDs was 42.5 years (range: 28 to 61). Board chairs were, on average, 54.8 years old (range: 43 to 66). Board chairs (x̄ = 1.97 years, range: 4 months to 4 years) had been in their positions less on average than EDs (x̄ = 6.7 years, range: 5.5 months to 25 years). The qualitative analysis revealed three patterns to understand factors that enhanced the executive-board relationship: Background, Roles, and Management. Background is who a person is, including character traits; training and education; past professional experiences; and leadership skills. Roles regard what they do, including legal expectations; goals; board capacity needs; and level of engagement. Management refers to a board or executive director's decision-making processes, interactions with each other, task initiation, and ED autonomy. Conclusion: The data suggest that the ED's ability to engage and involve the board is critical to developing and maintaining a positive executive-board relationship. These findings can help EDs engage their boards and drive organizational success.
University / Institution: Utah State University
Type: Poster
Format: In Person
Presentation #C64
SESSION C (1:45-3:15PM)
Area of Research: Social Work
Faculty Mentor: Jayme Walters