Smaller Board

Smaller Board

Goal #1: Reduce the Number of Directors.

According to Investopedia.com, most corporate boards “range from 3 to 31 members,” and “[s]ome analysts believe the ideal size is seven.” BoardSource recently conducted a study and found that the average size of nonprofit boards is 15, and the mean size is 13. The researchers warned (p. 17) that “[a] board may be too big” if any of the following is true:

  • There are too many board members to meaningfully engage in a fullboard conversation.
  • Real deliberation and discussion on big organizational issues is being shifted to the executive committee.
  • Board members are disconnected from the board’s governing role and participation is on an almost honorary basis.

The NRA has 76 board members – over five times the national average, and over ten times the ideal size suggested by Investopedia. As a result, the NRA board has shown all the symptoms of unhealthy bloat: lack of meaningful conversation, excessive delegation to small committees, and general disconnection (evinced by the low attendance rate among other factors).

The Plan

In order to support more efficient governance, rid the board of honorary figureheads, and promote active participation by highly qualified leaders, we propose reducing the board size from 76 to 31. Even though this would still be an unusually large board, it would still make the board approximately 60% leaner than it is now.

A 31-member board would also allow for the most seamless transition. Currently, all directors serve three-year terms, and those terms are staggered to fill one third of the seats at a time. So, every year, NRA members elect 25 board members (plus one more elected to a one-year term at NRAAM). If we amend the bylaws to establish a 31-member board, then the ballots for the next three years would simply call for electing ten board members rather than 25. So, in year one, the board would be reduced by 15; in year two, it would decrease by another 15; and in the third year another 15 seats would dissolve. That way, the reduction would take place gradually over three years.

Did you know?

Consider the several large organizations listed below. Most of them are big-budget, membership-based nonprofits advancing the interests of millions of people, just like the NRA. How many seats do these organizations have on their governing boards? Take a guess, and then float over the flash cards to reveal the answer. How do their numbers compare to the those of the NRA?

American Red Cross

15 Board Members

AARP

12 Board Members

American Bar Assoc.

43 Board Members

(including regional representatives)

Gun Owners of America

8 Team Members

Armed Citizens Legal Defense Fund

6 Advisory Board Members

YMCA

27 Board Members

America Diabetes Assoc.

19 Board Members

Everytown for Gun Safety

28 Advisory Board Members

National Rifle Association of America

76 Board Members