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Social Work And Board of Directors

The Relationship Model

Stephen R. Block

Publication Date - 01 July 2015

ISBN: 9780190616441

192 pages


Executive directors can often feel that the problems they face in working with their board are never ending, every day, and everywhere occurrences. Stephen Block draws on thirty-six years of experience to outline the roles and responsibilities of nonprofit boards and examines the common barriers to success. By drawing on the central concepts and values of the social work profession, this book develops of model of board management that empowers executive directors to manage a successful and productive board. The information in the book is as relevant for an experienced director as it is for a student of nonprofit management.

The Board Relationship Model is at its core a collegial, partnership-based approach to board management that values the "human element" above all else. It addresses problems from a social work perspective--first assessing the situation to formulate a coherent plan of intervention, implementing the plan, and finally evaluating the results. Using theory, research findings, and case studies, the book clearly demonstrates the two distinct modes of problem-solving the model was designed for--first, addressing the specific problems that impede board functions, and second, building and maintaining the relationships that lead to long-term success.


  • Applies an understanding of human behavior and the social environment to inform decision making
  • Reviews the major theories and models of board management
  • Presents the historical context of the intersections of social work, management, and governance
  • Develops a cohesive framework for managing board member expectations

About the Author(s)

Stephen R. Block (MSW Indiana University, PhD University of Colorado) is research professor at the University of Colorado, Denver School of Public Affairs and a Fulbright Scholar in Nonprofit/Nongovernmental Management. He has over thirty-six years of experience on nonprofit boards. He was the executive director of the Colorado Chapter of National Association of Social Workers, the Colorado-based Institute for Nonprofit Organization Management, and is the founding executive director of Rocky Mountain Human Services (RMHS).


"Social Work and Boards of Directors: The Relationship Model has two distinguishing features. The first is that it is written with social workers in mind. The second is that it provides a comprehensive model to assist in resolving board and executive director conflicts, as well as providing guidance on improving the board's effectiveness." -- Thomas Tebbe, School Social Work Journal

"Stephen Block has a deep involvement with the nonprofit sector: he has been working, teaching, and publishing on nonprofit organizations for decades. He started his career as a social worker and has always been related with this profession, which has been significantly increasing based on the number of professionals. This background gives him singular credibility with regard to the specific subject of this book." --Requel Rego, Voluntas

Table of Contents

    1. The Role of the Human Service Organization in Society
    2. Boards of Directors of Human Service Organizations
    3. The Social Worker as a Leader & Manager: The Key to Board Success
    4. Theories to Understand Boards
    5. From Theory to Board Models
    6. The Human Element: An Essential Ingredient
    7. The Board Relationship Model
    8. Board & Executive Director Failure: The Board Relationship Model and its Conflict with Expectations
    9. The Board Relationship Model in Action
    10. The Board Relationship Model: Next Steps

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