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I have always thought that a proper function of the board (of a non-profit) was to make decisions on policy questions, hiring the top management of the enterprise, and overseeing that the policy was followed (or changing the policy if required), that the top management was doing its job, etc., and then to keep out of the way. But that does not seem to be how it is done in the non-profits I am familiar with (small volunteer ones).

Ah, yes, that is the goal of most NFPs. But unless they are started with a large amount of cash, it takes a while to get there, and it is certainly not the only proper model. Most small NFPs start out with a working board and no paid staff. This is not improper and is the only way many get started. They may evolve, over time, to a managing board, and finally, to a policy board that you describe. Many fail along the way, just like profit businesses. The process can be messy and uncomfortable to view, like making sausage. Many evolution models exist. Here http://nonprofitboardcrisis.typepad.com/mbblog/act-your-age-... is a four-step model that points out that there is more than one path and the rules are not universally agreed upon.

I applaud you for trying and hope your NFP succeeded. I can imagine the hours you spent.

Foolish regards,

Vic
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