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April 03, 2007

Towards Greater Board Transparency

The Center for Association Leadership held a board meeting recently and published a press release describing the major issues taken up by its directors during the meeting. I like this. Some might argue that a simple press release can't possibly convey the substance and nuance of the meeting, and I agree. But it's a nice 30,000 foot view of what the Center is grappling with, and I applaud them for taking the initiative to provide this update.

If you view board transparency as a continuum, from no disclosure (releasing minutes only to board members) to full disclosure (releasing transcripts or recordings of board meetings to the entire membership), you'd probably put this tactic somewhere between no disclosure and medium disclosure. Given the risks associated with releasing too much information, and the risks associated with releasing too little information (yes, this is also a risk), I'd say this is a pretty good compromise. I might suggest additional reasonable points along the continuum:

  • Audio interview with board chair or chief staff executive to discuss major topics addressed at board meetings.
  • Publishing minutes of board meetings in newsletter or magazine.
  • Informing members that board meeting minutes are available to read on the association's web site.
  • Conducting conference calls with association volunteers after board meetings to review major discussion items.

Certainly there are others, but that's a decent start. Let's hope the Center and ASAE will continue down this path of providing members with more information about its governance.

UPDATE: Here's another board report I just got. I think I like the Center's approach better, because it talks about outcomes, provides more context and adds some narrative.

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