Included in February 2014 Governing Magazine is an article on the challenges public officials and boards face understanding the nuances of finances. Within the article is a line: "government finance is anything but intuitive."
To this point I propose that nonprofit governance is anything but intuitive, at least for the majority of board members. Let's consider that most of the folks who serve in a board capacity do not have extensive experience in governing a nonprofit. Even for those who have experience as a small business owner or an accountant or a lawyer, professions most likely to have the pertinent or related skills needed to govern a nonprofit, sitting in an actual board seat is pretty much unique to most other experiences the average citizen who might be a board member would encounter.
So what you might ask? First, just recognizing that nonprofit governance is not intuitive nor have most been trained for this work should serve as a lesson for nonprofit CEOs and equally important, board governance committees. The lesson: onboarding and continuous training must be deep and wide and include understanding of cultural nuances and protocols, meeting management, decision making, strategic and programmatic fundamentals, pertinent legal and fiduciary matters, and of course financials.
We cannot simply assume and presume that joining a nonprofit board means that those who sign-on are instantly ready to get to work and have the impact they would like.