Sharon Brooks

Research Friday: Lessons in board governance

posted by
  Sharon Brooks,
 Administrative Assistant

 Fiesta Bowl


Welcome to Research Friday! As part of a continuing series, we invite a nonprofit scholar or practitioner to highlight current nonprofit research reports or studies and discuss how they can inform and improve day-to-day practice. We welcome your comments and feedback.

In April of 2011, a story broke regarding The Central Asia Institute, a nonprofit organization. Although it had been in existence for 13 years, the organization had no audited financial statements, had only three board members (including the executive director), was not clear about how donor money was being spent, and had a clear conflict of interest with the executive director promoting personal book sales through the nonprofit. The truth about the Central Asia Institute was revealed in several high-profile journals and newspapers such as the Harvard Business Review, The Chronicle of Philanthropy and the Wall Street Journal, with articles titled “Lessons from the ‘Three Cups of Tea’ Controversy,” “‘Three Cups of Tea’ Scandal Offers Lessons for Charities and Trustees,” and “Lessons for Donors from ‘Three Cups of Tea’,” respectively.

The Central Asia Institute is only one nonprofit organization that has fallen from grace due to poor nonprofit governance. The United Way and the American Red Cross are two well-known, large organizations that have also experienced controversy in recent years1.

Thankfully, a recent survey conducted by BoardSource in 2012 shows signs of increased governance among nonprofits2. Through surveying chief executive officers from all 50 states, BoardSource reported the following key findings:

Research Friday: How Important is Gift Acknowledgement to Donors?

posted by
  Sharon Brooks,
 Development Associate

 United Cerebral Palsy
of Central Arizona


Welcome to Research Friday! As part of a continuing weekly series, each Friday we invite a nonprofit scholar or practitioner to highlight current nonprofit research reports or studies and discuss how they can inform and improve day-to-day practice. We welcome your comments and feedback.

In 2011 I gave to over twenty different nonprofit organizations. From each I received various forms of acknowledgements, ranging from a standard receipt to phone calls to video messages. The type of thank you did not appear to depend on the size of my gift. For example, I gave $20.08 to my alma mater in honor of my graduation year, and have received a thank you email, letter, alumni car decal, and a second thank you letter personally written from a current student at the university. Conversely, I gave $250 to a Christian humanitarian organization and received a thank you letter with an electronic signature. Yet I plan to give again in 2012 to the Christian humanitarian organization and not to my alma mater, a decision which seems to run counter to commonly held assumptions about donor stewardship.