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The culture of a nonprofit board is an essential element that can have a significant impact on the organization’s success. Culture refers to the shared values, beliefs, and behaviors of a group, and board culture is no exception. Defining nonprofit board culture is important because it sets the foundation for the organization’s governance, decision-making, and overall relationship with staff.   When the board’s culture is well-defined, it provides clarity on the values, beliefs, and behaviors that are expected of board members.  

Why Is A Great Board Culture Important? 

  1. It guides decision-making: A well-defined board culture can serve as a guide for decision-making, especially when faced with difficult choices. If the board has established values and beliefs, it can use them to evaluate options and choose the one that aligns with the organization’s mission and purpose.
  2. It establishes accountability: When values, beliefs, and behaviors are clearly defined, it makes it easier to hold board members accountable. For example, if the board has established a culture of transparency, any member who fails to disclose a conflict of interest can be held accountable for violating that culture.
  3. It promotes positive interactions: Board culture can influence how members interact with one another. A culture of respect, trust, and open communication can create a positive and supportive environment where members feel comfortable sharing ideas and concerns. Conversely, a toxic culture can lead to mistrust, conflict, and disengagement.
  4. It attracts the right people: A well-defined board culture can help attract board members who share the organization’s values and beliefs. This alignment can promote a stronger sense of commitment and engagement, which can lead to better outcomes for the organization.
  5. It supports organizational success: A positive board culture can support the organization’s success by promoting collaboration, innovation, and a sense of purpose among board members. This positive culture leads the organization as a whole, improving staff morale, stakeholder relationships, and overall effectiveness.
  6. A strong nonprofit board culture is also more likely to lead to more successful diversity, equity, inclusion, and justice (DEIJ) initiatives throughout the whole organization. 

If you want to know more about how to define and center your board governance on values and culture, contact The Hive Collective at