In the October 6 issue of The Chronicle of Philanthropy (subscription required) Molly Hall writes, “The bad economy has worn out many of the trustees who sit on charity boards across the nation, say nonprofit executives and consultants who advise boards. … Yet some boards, working closely with their chief executives, have managed to use the financial crisis to reinvent themselves and their organizations, says Fred Miller, a Boston consultant. … At the Memphis Symphony Orchestra, for example, when economic hardship created a $1-million deficit in 2008 and 2009, ‘our board was disengaged and fatigued,’ says Ryan Fleur, the organization’s chief executive. … ‘One trustee asked, If the symphony went away, would Memphis even notice? We didn’t like the answer.’ But the question led the symphony’s board and staff members to review and change its mission. … The symphony has created a new offering with Federal Express: a leadership training program called Leading From Every Chair, in which corporate executives work with symphony musicians to create and perform music. … Such accomplishments have begun to make a dent in the symphony’s $1-million deficit, which declined to about $475,000 last year and is expected to drop to $250,000 by next year, Mr. Fleur says.”

Posted October 18, 2011