Nonprofit board members are an important piece of an organization’s nonprofit status. A nonprofit board is charged with upholding the public trust in a nonprofit—the governing body with programmatic and fiscal oversight.
Board members should be fully cognizant of the specific roles and responsibilities—for the board as an entity and for the individual board members. Leadership staff of the nonprofit must also be well-versed in this area.
A common challenge for nonprofit board members is distinguishing their role as a unit (the whole board) and as an individual board member.
A board governs by making the big decisions—a change in mission or bylaws, acquiring property, etc. The Board provides fiscal oversight—reviewing regular financials, receiving the audit and related activities. Nonprofit boards provide legal oversight—ensuring the organization files relevant paperwork, like the 990 tax return, state requirements for corporations and charitable institutions. The board is the boss of the CEO (but not the boss of other staff!), directing the work broadly, not on day-to-day tasks. Long-range planning is the role of the full board, along with examining efficiency of operations.
Acting as an individual, board members can provide support by volunteering, being an ambassador for the organization in the community and providing advice when asked. Board members, as individuals, are an important part of a nonprofit’s fundraising strategy (stay tuned for future information about the board’s role in fundraising).
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