The Intentional Board: Why Your Board Doesn’t Work . . . And How to Fix It, by M. Kent Stroman, CFRE


The Intentional Board: Why Your Board Doesn’t Work . . . and How to Fix It

The Intentional Board distinguishes between an "intentional" board and an "accidental" one. Author Kent Stroman shows how to create an intentional board and why it is so important to do so. Stroman provides practical solutions and strategies to take your organization from where it is where you want it to be. He identifies common themes that affect boards and shares proven strategies to avoid creating an accidental board, and how make it intentional. It is a quick read, building on Stroman's trademark conversational style.

Ever feel like you're just spinning your wheels in the boardroom? That you aren't on the same page with other members of the board and senior staff? Do you sometimes wonder if you're really accomplishing the purpose for which the organization was created?

If so, please realize this: You are not alone!

The Intentional Board was written specifically with these frustrations in mind.

Intentional vs. Accidental Board

Kent Stroman coined the term "accidental board" to describe the governance condition he has too-frequently encountered in his decades in the nonprofit field. It makes no difference how old or new. Large or small. Sophisticated or simple. Local or international. Boards tend to fall prey to the same reality that plagues every other entity: Left to their own devices, they will decay. And, unfortunately, most don’t have to decline very far for the decay to become noticeable.

Accidental boards result from the forces of human nature. A handful of well-intentioned individuals with a boatload of passion joins together to solve a specific problem. They form a nonprofit organization, and someone tells them they must have a board. No problem. Several of them know attorneys (maybe someone who practices family law) and ask for assistance. These kind and generous attorneys provide pro bono services—well beyond their area of expertise—to help get the organization started on the right foot. The formal structure for governing a charitable entity is born, and everyone goes happily about their respective business.

But trouble is brewing. It’s invisible. It’s just below the surface. The governance capabilities of the board are not keeping up with the demands of the mission. The governance framework laid out in the bylaws is not aligned with the structure required of a charitable entity. And just like a Kansas tornado, the winds are shifting, and the shift goes unnoticed. Initially. Next thing we know Toto is flying. And, we’re not in Kansas anymore! Yikes!

Unless an intervention occurs, the result will be the formation of one more accidental board. A roomful of dedicated, generous, passionate members will gradually create a governance structure that does not work. If left untreated, this will eventually become a major distraction from the charitable programs and threaten the very existence of the organization.

The intentional board, however, is the result of purposeful, deliberate action. In The Intentional Board, Stroman expertly weaves his powerful but easy-to-grasp 17 Laws of the Intentional Board to give you a framework for getting your board back on track. It's written in the upbeat, conversational style common to In the Trenches books from CharityChannel Press.

17 Laws of the Intentional Board

17 Laws of the Intentional Board


The intentional board is a journey—not a destination. It involves a collective striving for excellence. And it’s a rewarding endeavor for all who are involved.

No one who has served on an intentional board will ever be content returning to an accidental board. Rather, these enlightened board members will become change agents for transforming other organizations from survival to significance in their governance practices.

Who Will Benefit?

The Intentional Board is for anyone who wants a healthy, well-governed organization. It’s indispensable for:

  • Executive Directors
  • Aspiring Executive Directors
  • Board Chairs
  • Board Members
  • Prospective Board Members
  • Governance Consultants
  • Emerging Leaders
  • Young Professionals
  • Students of Nonprofit Leadership

Listen to the Podcast from the Ted Hart Radio Show

[ Download the Podcast ]

Ted Hart interviewed Kent for his 2/1/2018 segment of The Nonprofit Coach with Ted Hart radio program. If you're on the go, we've excerpted the interview that you can download as an MP3 file. Click "Download the Podcast."

About the Author

M. Kent Stroman, CFRE

Kent Stroman

Regarded as America’s ASKing Coach, Kent Stroman is a published author, popular presenter, effective consultant, and insightful thought leader. His purpose in life is to Equip, Inspire, and Encourage.

Kent has served on numerous boards and leads board retreats throughout the country. He is a partner in the prestigious Alliance for Board Effectiveness, which is committed to excellence in governance. Kent’s observation of accidental boards over the years has led to his passion for intentionality in board service and governance.

After a twenty-five-year career in higher education, Kent launched Stroman & Associates, consulting in fundraising, board governance, strategic planning, and leadership development. He is a Certified Fund Raising Executive (CFRE), BoardSource-trained governance consultant, Sarkeys Foundation-approved retreat facilitator, and serves as an adjunct consultant for the Oklahoma Center for Nonprofits. Kent has earned the Association of Fundraising Professionals’ Master Trainer designation.

For many years, Kent honed his skills in the trenches as a fundraiser while developing a successful relationship-based model for engaging donors, which he writes about in Asking about Asking: Mastering the Art of Conversational Fundraising. Kent equips fundraising leaders internationally through speaking engagements, retreats, webinars, workshops, and his signature Asking Academy training program offered through The Institute for Conversational Fundraising.