Nonprofit Board Responsibilities

Propel Nonprofits is also a leader in the nonprofit sector, with research and reports on issues and topics that impact that sustainability and effectiveness of nonprofit organizations. The board of directors should be open to self evaluation and regularly review their own composition to ensure constituent representation, board expertise and commitment. Boards also are responsible for evaluating and determining compensation for the executive director. Board members perform their responsibilities through regular meetings and a committee structure that is appropriate for the size of the board and organization. Board members are responsible for arriving at meetings well-prepared and ready to engage in thoughtful dialogue. One of the more subtle duties of a nonprofit board member is obedience.

Donors and stakeholders must have full confidence that all funds are being used to advance the organization’s mission. As Senior Vice President of Marketing at Boardable, Julie is passionate about helping nonprofits tap into new technology in order to better serve their missions and constituents. With 18 years of online experience under her belt, Julie has previously served as the Vice President of Digital Marketing at two digital-marketing agencies and as the Director of Marketing at a mobile app startup. She has been a volunteer with Girls, Inc. of Greater Indianapolis as a program facilitator and has participated in four Indy Habitat for Humanity Women Build events, most recently as a Team Co-Leader. Based on your solidified knowledge of board member responsibilities, you can now confidently move forward with outlining specific duties for your own organization’s board!

Discharge and replace its members for reasons authorized by the bylaws. Review and approve the organization’s plans to do major borrowing. Review and approve plans of reorganization, growth, and contraction. 3) Board members are responsible for advancing the mission of the organization. Supervise and evaluate the performance of the Executive Director annually.

Board Member Responsibilities & Roles: A Nonprofits Guide

They answer to the IRS on financial matters and to the state with annual paperwork and registrations. The Board is responsible for making sure that the nonprofit operates with the laws that govern it at the local, state, and national level. That can mean things like submitting annual corporate paperwork to the state, submitting revenue/tax information to appropriate agencies (in the US it’s the IRS), and renewing solicitation permits. Every Board member should be familiar with your organization’s bylaws and adhere to them. Your bylaws are the organization’s internal rules of operation and if they are out of date or not followed, your nonprofit is out of integrity with itself. The Board should make sure the organization has a system for keeping accurate records in case they are requested by government agencies or donors. The Board should help create and maintain a code of ethics for the organization.

  • These individuals fully embrace your mission, not just board service.
  • Board members need to be fully committed to the organization’s mission and must also bring needed skills and balance to the overall board.
  • One purpose of the annual reporting referred to above is to check on self-dealing.
  • Find principles of good governance and ethical & prudent practices for your nonprofit.
  • If you have a passion for pursuing a career in purpose-driven organizations, an advanced degree has become a clear advantage as the field becomes more competitive.

Society depends upon nonprofit organizations for a variety of essential functions—from education to health, art to social services, and housing to general welfare, to name a few. The success of these organizations in serving the public depends not only upon monetary resources but also on the ability of these organizations to function in an orderly and efficient manner. When a nonprofit organization fails, promises fail—and so do the expectations of the public and the direct clients and donors. And society has one organization less that it can call upon to provide needed services. The key to avoiding failure is the way the organization is managed—and at the very top of the management pyramid is the board of directors. However, a board of directors does not exist solely to fulfill legal duties and serve as a fiduciary of the organization’s assets. Beyond fulfilling legal duties, board members can be important resources for the organization in multiple ways.

Make Sure Your Board Members Understand And Commit To Their Duties

Attend all board and committee meetings and functions, such as special events. The vast majority of board members for charitable nonprofits serve as volunteers without any compensation. However, they are expected to set an example by donating to the organization and soliciting other contributions.

What is a board members role?

Board members are the fiduciaries who steer the organization towards a sustainable future by adopting sound, ethical, and legal governance and financial management policies, as well as by making sure the nonprofit has adequate resources to advance its mission.

It’s up to board members to understand federal, state, and local laws that apply to your organization. Then, they must assure that the organization adheres to those legal obligations.

Stand For Your Mission

Program is dedicated to deepening your knowledge of all aspects of nonprofit leadership, including governance and regulation. An advanced degree can bring you new opportunities to grow your career. If you have a passion for pursuing a career in purpose-driven organizations, an advanced degree has become a clear advantage as the field becomes more competitive. Board members need to be fully committed to the organization’s mission and must also bring needed skills and balance to the overall board.

nonprofit board member roles and responsibilities

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Nonprofit Board Responsibilities: The Basics

Individuals should be assigned to committees based on past experience, skills, and interests. For instance, a board member who has a background in accounting would be a great fit for the finance committee. For instance, many organizations adopt Robert’s Rules of Order to maintain order in the boardroom. The rules of conduct during meetings are established for a reason and facilitate fruitful conversation. Observing the Rules of Order shows decorum and respect for the organization.

It’s helpful for board members to learn how to tell stories that led to the success of the organization. A two-minute elevator speech goes a long way towards telling the organization’s purpose. Board members should make every effort to attend public fundraisers and encourage their friends to attend. At least annually, board members should make a personal financial contribution to the organization.

Several states have statutes adopting some variation of these duties that would be used in court to determine whether a board member acted improperly. These standards are usually described as the duty of care, the duty of loyalty, and the duty of obedience. Many states have laws governing the functions of the board of directors of nonprofits and the conduct of board members. For instance, a nonprofit board must oversee the nonprofit organization’s operations and make sure that its staff and volunteers act legally and ethically. States often use the following principles of nonprofit corporation law. The law considers excessive compensation to any disqualified person to be self-dealing; for example, using the assets of the organization for personal benefit.

Are nonprofit board members liable?

With rare exceptions, members of a nonprofit board are protected against personal liability due to the following: An incorporated entity is responsible for its debts. In the vast majority of circumstances, judgments imposed on a nonprofit by a court of law have to be paid by the organization, not individual directors.

The board should do everything in its power to reach organizational goals, but members still have an obligation to follow your organization’s guidelines. These are found in your governance documents, and every board member has a legal responsibility to understand them. For a smaller nonprofit organization, a secretary could be just about anyone who is able to learn quickly and juggle many things. For larger nonprofit organizations, a nonprofit secretary is more likely to have a full 4-year degree and to have served in a secretary position before. Often, the executive director’s administrative assistant will prepare board meeting documents, too. Every board member should serve on at least one but preferably no more than two committees or task forces.

Board Members Should Serve On At Least One Committee

While the President can also serve as the CEO or Executive Director of the organization, keep in mind that these two roles are separate. Returning to an earlier point, the role of President is a matter of governance, while the role of CEO/ED is management. Organizations should also have Officers, typically chosen from among the board members, who are given a higher level of responsibility compared to other board members. Initial officers are elected by the board; this vote usually takes place during the organization’s first meeting. The composition has to do with the number and distribution of persons on the board and the way it is divided by function. The functions are not perfunctory; they facilitate the capacity of the board to carry out its principal purpose of being the voice of the organization and the various interests that the organization serves. To do this competently involves carrying out a variety of specific activities and first being true to the organization in doing so.

Before you can start writing guidelines for your board’s leaders, you need to understand those general responsibilities yourself. Let’s explore common board member roles and their corresponding duties. In conjunction with key staff and volunteers, the Board needs to make realistic plans that take into account the organization’s vision, the community’s needs, and the external context in which your nonprofit operates. The Board should also be involved in planning for accountability and evaluation of the strategic plan once it’s implemented. This means reviewing the cost of operating programs, appropriate levels of cost, and whether programs or services should be initiated or discontinued.

Resources & Tools

These committees allow boards to tackle nominations and governance, finances and risk, and executive decisions. A current trend in the sector is to have three committees on the board.

Arm new board members with lots of reading that they can do on their own. Such a meeting will likely impress the new board member or potential members with the seriousness of their board commitment. An overview of board responsibilities is especially important for new members who haven’t served on any other boards and for members recruited from among your volunteers. Joanne Fritz is the expert on nonprofit organizations and philanthropy for The Balance Small Business. Few things are more important to the health and sustainability of a nonprofit than its board of directors. A board of directors leads organizations through important tasks and decisions.

Collect sales tax on items sold by the organization, unless tickets are sold to performances by a performing arts organization. Search our online resource library of nonprofit management best practices, tips, tools, and strategies. Build your skills through hundreds of in-person workshops, conferences, networking events, and virtual trainings each year. Find the products, services, and expertise your nonprofit needs to meet its mission. Not only should they participate in recruitment, but current board members should also assist in onboarding new directors. For those who are retiring from their positions, this means training their successors. As for those who are returning for another term, this means proactively getting to know new members, ensuring they have access to the board platform, and simply providing a friendly face in the boardroom.

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