Key Insights from Board Leadership Survey – Stronger Non-Profits need Stronger Boards

Top insights show that non-profit boards have 3 times more female representations in the boardrooms (31%), as compared to private sector (10%); 61% of those surveyed have Board succession or renewal plans but have not formalised this process.

Singapore, 5 May 2017 – Developed by NVPC and CNPL, in partnership with the Charity Council, the inaugural biennial Board Leadership Survey (BLS) 2016 sheds light on the understanding of board practices, its policies and activities of charities and IPCs in Singapore. The insights show that there are opportunities to promote and enable board diversity and board succession planning to enhance board leadership capacity for the non-profit sector.

Lead for Good

Winifred Loh, Director for CNPL, a part of NVPC, says “By adhering to the principles of the enhanced Code of Governance, we will Lead for Good, and collectively raise the standard of professionalism for all non-profits in Singapore. Most importantly, to lead for a good purpose is both a privilege and a responsibility, one that must be embraced with grace and courage. Even though they are volunteers themselves, Board members play a unique role as stewards of Governance.”

Key Insight 1: Promote board diversity to stay relevant

Through the survey, we found that non-profit boards have better representation of women in the boardrooms with 31% compared to10% women’s representation of boards of SGX-listed companies in Singapore (Reference: Diversity Action Committee, Singapore, Dec 2016). Close to 80% of them recruit their board members through their personal networks. The survey found that almost half of all Board members fall within the age bracket of 41 to 60 years old which suggests a lack of representation from the younger generation who can contribute by giving inputs to strategies reaching out to the younger volunteers and donors.

On promoting board diversity, Dr Francis Yeoh, President of Singapore Association for Mental Health (SAMH) shares his perspective, “Having a non-profit board with diverse perspectives is an essential element of good governance. For instance, each person will bring his or her own personal and professional contacts, functional expertise, and life experiences to their service on a non-profit board. At SAMH, we have a well-balanced Board where half are psychiatrists (the domain experts for the charity) while the rest have backgrounds and expertise in finance, legal, government and academia.”

A diverse board which is also sensitive to differences in gender, culture, age and religion is usually one that is in a stronger position to plan for the future, manage risk, make prudent decisions, and take full advantage of opportunities. Diverse boards are also more likely to attract diverse donors and grantmakers, who are increasingly focused on diversity.

Key Insight 2: Stronger board leadership depends on a robust succession planning process and leadership pipeline

According to our BLS, 61% of the surveyed non-profits have succession planning in place, and the process is largely not formalized. Planned renewal of leadership ensures continuity of services to the beneficiaries and clients the non-profit serves.

Our dipstick survey shows that most non-profits have an average of four sub-committees namely, Finance, Audit, Programmes & Services and HR. As today’s non-profit scene becomes more complex, other sub-committees can be formed, for e.g. Governance, IT, Partnership & Sponsorship, etc. These also serve as channels for building the leadership pipeline.

Key Insight 3: Adhere closely to the Code of Governance for greater accountability

Our BLS shows that 64% of the organisations do not have a defined period, nor a policy on hand to guide the term limit for its Chairperson. Another position is the Treasurer, with over 35% of the organisations either exceeding the term limit or not having a defined period/policy in place. Using the Code of Governance for guidance will ensure that compliance requirements are met and that public trust is maintained.

For media queries and interviews, please contact:

Jessica Chai Pei Shan
NVPC, Lead, Comms and PR
HP: 9823 8554

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