Expectancy Theory, Diversity, and the Nonprofit Board


  • Cynthia Beasley University of Oklahoma
  • Brent Beasley Veterans Administration Kansas City




This study explores whether the expectations people have for joining a nonprofit board influence their satisfaction with board participation. In addition, it seeks to discover whether those expectations differ by race, gender, age, or lived experience with poverty. We sent a quantitative online survey to 600 board members of a national nonprofit organization with over 200 affiliates in the United States and had a response rate of 94%. We designed the survey questions using reasons for board membership from previous studies. Our findings indicate the correlation of many expectations with satisfaction, particularly influenced by board member age. Expectations do not differ significantly by gender or race though we noted trends which deserve further study. We identified seven predictors for board member satisfaction we believe deserve the focus of board leadership to improve board member retention. Our findings suggest when expectations are met, people express satisfaction and may be more likely to complete their time of board service. As nonprofit boards seek to understand the impact of diversity in member satisfaction, future research focused on the influence of expectations for targeted groups may be useful for ensuring successful recruitment, inclusion, and retention.