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The Makeup of Nonprofit Board Influences Economic Growth--Board Data for Southeast Louisiana

Posted By Cory Sparks, Louisiana Association of Nonprofit Organizations, Thursday, July 28, 2016

This morning Allison Plyer of The Data Center was at the White House discussing the use of data in disasters. This afternoon she's sharing research on how the makeup of nonprofit boards influences the trajectory of the economy. It's fascinating and thought-provoking as she applies it to Southeast Louisiana. There's also a link to The Data Center's recently released nonprofit board data.

Did you know that the makeup of nonprofit boards can influence the growth of a region’s economy?

Studies of regional economies in the Rust Belt have shown that when boards in different social sectors had little overlap, there was little collaboration across sectors and little collective action.

On the flip side, when board members in different sectors had excessive overlap, there was an even greater problem – “groupthink” due to a complete lack of new ideas and innovation.

What’s the ideal? Heterogeneous boards that have members who also serve on boards of other sectors, and board members who serve solely within a specific sector.

This sweet spot in social leadership prevents groupthink and promotes innovation while also allowing for the development of shared economic and social goals across leaders.

Heterogeneous boards that brought together disparate groups of people helped cities, such as Allentown, to support emerging industries and spin-off new sectors after the American

manufacturing decline.

Nonprofit Board Overlap

If you are interested in seeing how your board overlaps with others, take a look at The Data Center’s newly releasednonprofit board data. It includes the names of board members of hundreds of Southeast Louisiana nonprofits and important information about these nonprofits, including their locations and sectors. The excel tables also show which nonprofits have overlapping board members.

We scraped this data from hundreds of Form 990s to make it easy for you to act on this important information by just downloading a spreadsheet and making a few phone calls.

The Promise of the Water Management Sector

Our infographic explains why heterogeneous social leadership is so important, and where we stand in Southeast Louisiana.

You may notice that we focused our analysis on the environmental sector and its overlap with other sectors and within itself. This social sector is at the epicenter of the water management economic cluster and thus, incredibly important to New Orleans’ environmental fate and prosperity going forward. As detailed in previous reports, water management is potentially the federally-fueled economic ramp that New Orleans can take toward a more prosperous, sustainable future. 



Tags:  boards  Nonprofit  Nonprofit sector 

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