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The Four Questions to Ask When Serving on a Board
The article's authors have identified four crucial questions that those serving on nonprofit boards, including trade and professional associations, should ask as part of their oversight duties. While these are not the only four questions they should ask, they are important. The first question is "Are we succumbing to mission creep?" Mission statements are often vague or too lofty. Mission creep is often an unintended consequence of such fuzziness, taking the organization far beyond its core competencies. Even in instances where an organization has a clear and well-drawn mission statement, board members should thoroughly review that statement every three to five years to sharpen both their understanding of the mission and their commitment to maintaining it.

The second question to ask is: "How is our 'theory of change' informing our strategies?" Some nonprofits struggle to translate their mission into a concrete plan for resource deployment. One major way to make the strategic conversation more concrete is to probe the "theory of change," which is a rigorous explanation of exactly how an organization's portfolio of initiatives will help achieve the stated mission.

Question three is: "How are we evaluating our impact?" Board members who are serious about helping their organization achieve its mission must insist on regular impact measurement. Evaluation can drive a virtuous cycle in which an organization tests both its theory of change and strategies and then improves its programs in response to what it learns.

The fourth and final question board members should ask is: "Do we have the right 'fuel' to drive our organization?" After all, a nonprofit is more than its mission, strategy, and impact. It should be viewed as a living organism that requires "fuel"—i.e., great people, sufficient funding, and so forth—to operate. Nonprofit board member need to check the organization's "fuel gauges" on a regular basis.
McKinsey Quarterly (12/17) Meehan III, William F.; Jonker, Kim Starkey
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JANUARY 2018 EDITION
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