Are Public Service Nonprofit Boards Meeting Their Responsibilities?


Robert D. Herman is a professor in the Department of Public Affairs at the Henry W. Bloch School of Business and Public A dministration, University of Missouri–Kansas City. His research interests center on nonprofit governance, nonprofit executive leadership, and nonprofit organizational effectiveness. He is the author of Executive Leadership in Nonprofit Organization and the editor of The Jossey-Bass Handbook of Nonprofit Leadership Management.


Public service nonprofit organizations have long been “partners” in the delivery of public services. Such nonprofit organizations are governed by boards, typically composed of citizen volunteers, that are expected to meet substantial standards of accountability and performance. Previous research has raised questions about how well such boards are meeting their responsibilities. A 2007 Urban Institute study, based on the first large representative sample of U.S. public benefit nonprofits, provides important evidence about the extent to which nonprofit boards are meeting certain accountability and performance standards.