book buzz logo
August 2012
In This Issue
Featured Book: The Secrets of Successful Boards: The Best from the Nonprofit Pros
Other Resources
Excerpt: "Boards Do Their Work in Committees"
Quick Links

Energize Online Bookstore 




 Everyone Ready: Volunteer Management Skill-Building Program 

Connect with Energize 

Find us on Facebook    Follow us on Twitter

Energize Blog
Visit the Energize Blog to get the latest news in the volunteer field.
Everyone Ready
Online Training
NEW! Small to Mid-sized Memberships.

Lost-cost, high-quality way to train everyone to work successfully with volunteers!

Learn More

Next Topic:

Pro Bono Service: Get Ready for the Highly-Skilled Volunteer

Starts August 20th  


Trainer: David Warshaw, Principal, Vistas Volunteer Management Solutions, USA


Consider how "highly-skilled" volunteering may differ from other sorts of donated service.

Access this training plus other topics and benefits by signing up for our $99 trial run.

In Susan's Hot Topic this month, Let's Be Honest about Nonprofit Boards of Directors (or, Lessons to Be Learned from Penn State), she highlights a number of problems currently prevalent in the structure of many nonprofit boards. Never wanting to critique without giving advice for improvement, this month we're featuring books about building strong and effective boards.

resource2 Featured Book
The Secrets of Successful Boards: The Best from the Nonprofit Pros
Edited by Carol Weisman

The Volunteer Shelf LifeGet your members up to speed with this practical, fun-to-read "Boards 101" book. Great for trustees new to boards, leaders of all-volunteer associations, or anyone starting a nonprofit from the ground up. Includes a chapter by Susan J. Ellis addressing the board's role in volunteer involvement, plus chapters on recruiting board members, fundraising, strategic planning, running meetings, and legal issues.


Read an excerpt from this book below.


This book is available as an e-book (US$15.00).


Order The Secrets of Successful Boards today!
resource2 Other Resources
From the Top Down: The Executive Role in Successful Volunteer Involvement, 3rd ed
by Susan J. Ellis

From the Top DownAlthough written for executive directors, From the Top Down also speaks to decision-makers on the board, especially in its discussion of developing a vision for volunteer involvement, creating policies, and assessing the impact of volunteer contributions.  In addition, the book makes the case for applying the best practices of volunteer management to working with board members, themselves volunteers.


This book is available as an e-book (US$18.00) and as a paperback (US$24.95).


Order From the Top Down today!
Build a Better Board in 30 Days: A Practical Guide for Busy Trustees
by Carol E. Weisman

Build a Better Board in 30 DaysA practical guide for busy trustees. Great reminders for experienced board members and an easy orientation for new board members. It provides effective strategies for improving the effectiveness of a board. This book suggests a range of small steps that are easy to take but make a huge difference in board excellence.


This book is available as an e-book (US$8.00).


Order Build a Better Board in 30 Days today!
e-Volunteerism: The Electronic Journal of the Volunteer Community

"How Many Hats Do Your Board Members Wear?"
An e-Volunteerism article looking at the various "hats" which nonprofit board members must wear and attempts to clarify these various roles.

"How a Board of Directors Can Demonstrate Support for Volunteer Development"
An audio interview with Mary Shallenberger, former chair of the National Board for the Planned Parenthood Federation of America on how her board was tangibly encouraging local affiliates to hire volunteer program coordinators and to make volunteers visible and valued.

subscribers can log in here.

Non-subscribers can read these and all journal articles from the past 12 years with affordable 48-hour access.
Resources Book Excerpt

Boards Do Their Work in Committees  

Excerpted from from Chapter 8, "Building a Strong Board - Executive Director Relationship," from The Secrets of Successful Boards: The Best from the Nonprofit Pros, edited by Carol Weisman (F. E. Robbins & Sons Press, 1998).


A common problem recognized by board members and executive directors alike is that many boards do committee work at board meetings. Consequently, board meetings go on for hours. One chief executive complained that, for an hour and a half, her board discussed the color of the carpet in the staff lounge.


In a governing board structure, committees are set up so that
work can continue between board meetings. When an issue comes up, the board after initial discussion, may give it to a committee for further study and recommendation. The committee meets, researches the problem, looks at the options and brings forward a recommendation for board action. Committees do not have decision-making powers unless previously granted by the board. The
only exception to the rule is the executive committee if such authority has been given in the bylaws. Most states allow for provisions in the bylaws allowing the executive committee to make decision in certain periods on behalf of the board.

In a very real sense, committees are "policy influencers."
Through their research and study, they influence how policy will be made. But because the board has overall responsibility for the well-being of the organization and is ultimately liable for everything the organization does, its decision-making power should not be relinquished to anyone - not even a respected committee.

Permission is granted for organizations to reprint this excerpt. Reprints must provide full acknowledgment of the source, as cited here:

Excerpted from from Chapter 8, "Building a Strong Board - Executive Director Relationship," from The Secrets of Successful Boards: The Best from the Nonprofit Pros, edited by Carol Weisman (F. E. Robbins & Sons Press, 1998). Found in the Energize, Inc. Online Bookstore at

Energize, Inc.
5450 Wissahickon Ave., C-13
Philadelphia, PA 19144 

Energize empowers and inspires leaders of volunteers worldwide. Our specialty is creating and selecting the most relevant, innovative resources in volunteer management. We're advocates for the power of volunteers and for the recognition of the leaders who unleash it.  About Us