Boards rarely "own" an organization themselves. They ordinarily are a microcosm of a larger ownership. The owners may be legal owners (stockholders for an equity corporation) or more a "moral" ownership (the whole community in the case of a local social service organization).  But in any event, the board speaks on their behalf, a task that requires (a) knowing who the owners are and what their desires are, (b) being able to distinguish owners from customers (clients, students, patients) and other stakeholder groups. Finding ways to link with owners even more than with management is a major challenge to any board. Most nonprofit and governmental attempts to do so deteriorate into linkage with disgruntled customers instead.