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How To Establish a Board of Directors for Your Nonprofit


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If you’re considering starting a non-profit one of the things that will play a major factor in the success of your business is who sits on your board of directors. Not giving your board of directors the consideration it deserves when it comes to its makeup is like not caring about the circle of people you choose to surround yourself with.


Your board of directors should consist of people who are just as driven and passionate about your project as you. And you should be able to trust their decisions going forward. If you are wondering how to establish a board of directors for your nonprofit, this article will help.


Why Does a Non-Profit Need a Board of Directors?

The Board of Directors of a non-profit organization, also called a nonprofit board, is valuable in many ways to the business. The nonprofit board is the body that governs how the nonprofit functions. They focus on the high-level strategies of the business, provide oversight, and assume accountability for the organization. In plain English what that means is the nonprofit board is responsible for making key decisions for your business. In making those key decisions, they are taking your vision and providing the best oversight possible to ensure that your dream becomes reality.


A nonprofit board makes the best decisions based on the established mission and vision for the company, while at the same time addressing the public’s interest through the work of the organization.

What Are the Functions of a Nonprofit Board?

A nonprofit board is responsible for the governance of the organization. Those responsibilities look similar to this:

  • Making plans for the organization that aligns with the needs of the community. Those plans could involve:

  • Establishing a mission statement

  • Putting programs and services in place

  • Recommending appropriate staffing and volunteer positions

  • Doing financial projections

  • Assessing the progress of the organization

  • Putting strategic plans in place or realigning plans

  • Providing sufficient resources through connections, fundraising, or donations

  • Ensuring the organization’s legal obligations are met and the organization is complying with all federal, state, and local laws

  • Selecting and evaluating the Executive Director

  • Improving the organization’s standing in the community


How Does the Board of Directors Differ From the Executive Director and the Employees?

As you’re considering the types of people that would be beneficial to your nonprofit organization, consider the board of directors and the types of employees you would need to make the business successful. While you provide the vision for the organization, it is important to have people around you that will help bring everything to fruition. Having an established board of directors and committed employees are just as important. The nonprofit board goes a long way in helping to provide oversight for the business, but they are way different from the employees or the executive director.


The nonprofit board provides high-level oversight of the vision and appoints an Executive Director to oversee the day-to-day operations of the business. Most times, the Executive Director is the visionary or someone else hired to assume those responsibilities. The Executive Director manages the employees and ensures the day-to-day operations get carried out. The employees you hire will carry out the day-to-day operations of your business. Without employees showing up on a daily basis to do the actual work, much of what’s needed would not happen. Volunteers are also a reality for many nonprofit organizations. Volunteers along with employees are the driving force for any nonprofit organization.


What Should You Look for in a Nonprofit Board?

A non-profit board can consist of anywhere from three members to fifty. Even if your board only consists of three members, it is still a legitimate board if the following roles are assumed by those members:

  • President: The president supervises all business meetings and is in charge of the governance. They ensure the board is always in compliance as well as the nonprofit organization. The president presides over the meeting and determines the agenda and is the primary contact for the nonprofit board.

  • Secretary: The secretary handles and manages all meeting documentation. They distribute the meeting agenda and ensure the recording of all meetings. The secretary securely files all official documents and ensures they are easily accessible. The secretary helps to ensure that all actions are in line with the organization’s bylaws.

  • Treasurer: The treasurer oversees the organization’s finances. They keep official receipts and disbursements and keep track of them.


There are no hard and fast guidelines that make it easy for you to determine who should serve on your nonprofit board. What that means is you’ll have to decide who will be good to be on your nonprofit board. With that said, here are some recommendations for assembling a nonprofit board that will take your organization to the next level:


  1. Look for people who are just as passionate about your vision as you are. It takes a lot of work to get a nonprofit functioning. Getting it off the ground will require dedication to the cause. If the nonprofit board is not committed to the cause, it could make it that much harder for your organization to have in place what it needs to function. Passionate, dedicated board members will put in the time to ensure the organization has what it needs to succeed.

  2. Select board members who are competent in particular areas. The nonprofit board will be responsible for overseeing the governance of the organization, which means there should be members with various levels of competence in planning, analysis, fundraising, legal, finance, etc. This does not mean that every board should have all of these competencies. But your nonprofit should be a healthy mix of all of the competencies you need to get your organization up and running. Your nonprofit board will be expected to meet once a year. However, most nonprofit boards meet as often as they need to carry out the mission of the organization. These meetings will pertain to discussions that will help position the organization for growth. That means your board members should be able to contribute to those discussions and add value to the cause.


In Conclusion

Establishing your nonprofit board is the first step in bringing your nonprofit organization to life. What happens after the board is established depends on who’s on the board. With a good, competent, well-organized non-profit board, your organization can serve the needs of its community and so much more. My only advice to you now is to choose your board wisely.


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