Survey: Secular, Religious Boards Aware Of Governance Distinctions

A growing number of nonprofit executives at religious and secular nonprofits are becoming increasingly aware of distinctions in the governance practices of their organizations. This is according to the results of a new survey from the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability (ECFA).

The Winchester, Va.-based organization’s 3rd Annual Nonprofit Governance Survey – the results of which will be presented during a webinar tomorrow (9/30) – found that 90 percent of respondents agreed or strongly agreed with the statement that there are distinctions between how a secular board operates and how a Christ-centered board governs. This is an increase from the 57 percent that agreed with that statement in ECFA’s first survey in 2012. It was, however, slightly down from the 92 percent that agreed in the 2nd annual survey in 2013.

“After decades of serving on secular and ministry boards, I am convinced that service on ministry boards is significantly different than secular boards, if biblical principles are followed,” said Dan Busby, president of ECFA. “That sentiment was expressed much more widely with this survey than just three years ago.”

While Busby hailed this as a positive development, there was some negative news that came from the survey results. When asked if their organization was prepared for a CEO succession, just 35 percent of board chairs answered in the affirmative while 31 percent of board members also said they were prepared. According to Busby, this lack of preparedness could leave organizations in a bind if a sudden change in leadership were required.

“It is critical that boards step up in addressing preparedness for CEO succession,” Busby said. “The strong continuity of ministries during leadership transitions depends on this proactive planning.”

Other key highlights from the survey include:

  • On the scale of “micromanagement” (1) to “healthy” (10), 35-40 percent of CEOs and board members rated their boards at 7 or less.
  • 90 percent of respondents asserted they would like to be at “healthy governance” (8, 9 or 10) within 12 to 18 months.

The full results from the 3rd Annual Nonprofit Governance Survey will be revealed during a free webinar on Sept. 30 at 1:00 p.m. EST. Full details can be found at https://www.ecfa.org/Events.aspx?EventID=94