Founder or flounder: When board and founder relationship impact nonprofit performance

This case study describes the complex relationships between nonprofit boards of directors and executive directors, especially when the executive director is the organization’s founder. The case takes the perspective of an MPA student, with limited professional experience, who is asked to serve on a board of a new nonprofit. It is an exciting opportunity; however, the student soon is overwhelmed as issues begin to arise in working with the organization’s founder. There are tensions between some board members and the founder regarding board roles, and questions arise around whether the nonprofit can survive. Teaching notes guide educators to broach topics including, but not limited to, board roles and responsibilities, nonprofit incorporation, performance measurement, board and executive director relationships, fiscal responsibility, and diversity, equity, and inclusion.