Articles written By Julia Duffy
At the time of writing Julia was a writer and researcher at Better Boards. She has a passionate interest in the non-profit sector, particularly its legal and regulatory complexities and she follows all news and developments in this area keenly. Prior to joining Better Boards, Julia served as an intern at Philanthropy Australia. Julia has a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Melbourne, majoring in Political Science and English Literature.
Seat Warmers and Saboteurs – Dealing with Difficult Directors
Communication breakdown and relationship failure within a board are a challenge for many organisations. Some of the stories we hear most commonly from directors at Better Boards are related to challenging relationships within the boardroom. Governance is not a solitary activity – it involves sharing and debating ideas, but also cooperation. The capacity of the board to come together for decision-making can have a direct impact on its effectiveness. Sometimes these types of conflict are fleeting, unforeseeable or just a blowing-off of steam, but in other more serious instances, they are the result of an underlying dysfunction in the group such as a poor board culture, or simply an individual board member who is a bad fit for the board or for the role.
Finding Your Way in the Purpose Economy
In this article we reflect on role of purpose in the non-profit sector. Drawing on thinking from Aaron Hurst’s book The Purpose Economy we consider how non-profit organisations can embrace this emerging trend to drive impact. The influence of purpose as a driving force in our society emerged, from the presentations and discussions that were engaged in at the Better Boards Conference 2015, as a theme at the top of many people’s minds.
The Fish Rots from the Head — Book Review
Bob Garratt’s The Fish Rots from the Head: Developing Effective Board Directors is an impassioned treatise on achieving effective corporate governance. Garratt offers an enthusiastic discussion of how boards can develop the requisite skills and approach and defy the potential problems and failings of corporate governance. Garratt particularly focuses on how the serious insufficiencies of some boards have negatively affected or caused the failure of organisations they govern. Garratt asks readers to appreciate the board’s determinative role in the success and effectiveness of an organisation.
The Australian Guide to Chairing Meetings — Book Review
Years of experience have shown that the most efficient way to transact the business of a meeting is to have a clear set of rules that ensure that every decision is made in accordance with democratic principles, that minority opinion is respected, and that few dominating individuals cannot impose their will on the rest of the group.” Marjorie Puregger’s The Australian Guide to Chairing Meetings is a compact but comprehensive resource on the formal structures associated with holding a meeting.
Financial Statements Demystified — Book Review
David Hey-Cunningham’s Financial Statements Demystified was written for business and non-profit leaders who have a limited formal understanding of financial statements and accounting principles. With this book, Hey-Cunningham seeks to provide readers with a basic introduction to these matters in order to assist them to better understand their organisation or business and, in turn, for those enterprises to become more successful and sustainable. Although this text is not specifically aimed at non-profit organisations it is invaluable as an Australian resource on financial statements and financial management that is easily as relevant to the non-profit sector as to the business world.
Directors at Work: A Practical Guide for Boards
Directors at Work: A Practical Guide for Boards by Geoffrey Kiel, Gavin Nicholson, Jennifer Ann Tunny and James Beck is a substantive reference manual for all types of board directors. Directors at Work is a generous text, both in size and in breadth of content. The 818-page book addresses a huge range of issues applicable to directors and offers a practical approach to each. Directors at Work is not the type of book you should attempt to read over a weekend (as I did), nor is it something you should scramble to speed read before your first board meeting.
The Handbook of Nonprofit Governance – Book Review
The Handbook of Nonprofit Governance, published by the American organisation Boardsource, is designed as a one-stop resource on governance for leaders and leadership teams of non-profit organisations. This book explores the value of governance in non-profit organisations and addresses the crucial roles, relationships, structures and practices involved in their leadership. The book is targeted chiefly at new or inexperienced board members and those with an academic interest in non-profit governance. As a comprehensive overview of a range of governance roles and issues more experienced directors might also find it a useful reference to keep on hand.
Ten Basic Responsibilities of Nonprofit Boards – Book Review
Richard T. Ingram’s Ten Basic Responsibilities of Nonprofit Boards, Second Edition (2008) is a handy manual on the basics of board governance. The text is the first publication in the popular Governance Series produced by Board Source. The series is authored by a range of writers with experience in the non-profit sphere and is designed as a point of entry to non-profit boards and a range of topics that surround effective governance.
Driven by Purpose
Driven by Purpose: Charities that make the difference (2012) is a new book from Stephen Judd, Anne Robinson and Felicity Errington that considers the history of non-profit organisations in Australia and advocates the value of ensuring organisations are purpose-driven. The book presents an excellent potted history of the charity sector in Australia and considers pertinent questions such as Why have charities? What’s the big issue about legal definitions? and Why does Australia have such a significant charity sector?
The Book of the Board
David Fishel’s The Book of the Board: Effective governance for non-profit organisations, Second Edition (2008) is a comprehensive manual on all things relating to non-profit boards. The Book of the Board is an ideal introduction to the intricacies of board membership for those who are new to the role but it will also be equally valuable to veteran board members looking to corroborate their ideas or consolidate their expertise. Fishel seeks to empower board members to contribute to their organisation and assist them in navigating some of the challenges they may face in a non-profit governance role.