Study proves not-for-profit leaders need a better welcome

Posted on 07 Oct 2019

By Matthew Schulz, journalist, Our Community

Nearly half of Australia's not-for-profits are giving their directors - including treasurers, secretaries and chairs - a poor induction into their organisation, a study into the sector's governance shows.

Spotlight induction report cover

An induction is crucial to a new board member, bringing them up-to-speed with the key mission and vision of an organisation, as well as all the policies, procedures, history, and the current environment.

Yet the ICDA Spotlight Report: Board Inductions reveals 45% of senior community leaders got a poor induction when they joined the board of their organisation.

Sports and recreation groups report the worst inductions, with 72% reporting they weren't happy with the handover they were given.

And even the best-performing groups recorded poor inductions more than 30% of the time.

The implications are stark. The same study finds that leaders are six times more likely to fail to fully understand their role if their induction is poor.

The Institute of Community Directors Australia's latest Spotlight Report - based on a national survey of 1878 senior community leaders - examined the inductions process as part of a bigger study into the governance of not-for-profits.

Other findings include:

  • Larger organisations provide better inductions than smaller ones.
  • Organisations in the community development, health and human services sectors provide better board inductions than those in other sectors.
  • One in five of those who said they did not receive a good induction also said they did not clearly understand their role on the board.
  • Treasurers were most likely among board members to report a good induction

Interestingly, community leaders report that the quality of inductions is on the decline, with two thirds of those having been inducted more than 10 years ago recalling a good induction.

The Spotlight Report series analyses the views of not-for-profit leaders who responded to ICDA's national Not-for-profit Governance Survey 2019. The resulting studies are produced by Our Community's Innovation Lab. Past Spotlight Reports have addressed financial health, fraud and cybercrime, board and CEO performance, the role of the chair, and not-for-profit impact and data.

ICDA is releasing insights in stages, with the full release of all data in December 2019.

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