home_board[1]The Basic Responsibilities of Volunteer Non-Profit Board Members

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Every nonprofit Board of Directors is unique, as every organization is unique.  However, there are certain general responsibilities that are common to all Boards.  These general roles and responsibilities help form the foundation of a “job description” for a Director of a nonprofit Board.

Setting the Mission and the Vision of an Organization

A Board of Directors is responsible for creating an organization’s mission and purpose statement, and to review them periodically to ensure they are keeping in step with the direction of the organizations growth.  The Mission Statement explains the purpose of the organizations existence and who it aims to serve.  The vision evokes a picture of the future of the organization.

Create a Plan for the Organization

The Board is also responsible for working with staff and volunteers to create a strategic plan for the growth of the organization, including resources, staffing, programs, and other aspects of organizational development.  Once a plan is created, the Board helps make sure the organization carries it out.

Maintain Integrity and Accountability

The Board is ultimately responsible for being sure that the organization maintains legal and ethical practices.  Creating clear and effective by-laws, staff policies, and evaluation methods and grievance procedures all help ensure accountability.

Determine Programs and Projects

A Board of Directors takes a broad perspective on projects and programs to ensure the work of the organization is consistent with its mission and vision.  The staff and volunteers are responsible for carrying out the programs.  The Board should focus on supporting the staff and volunteers without micromanaging tasks and decisions.

Ensure Adequate Resources

Boards are responsible for making sure that the organization had adequate resources to carry out its work.  This includes assisting with fundraising, but can also include seeking in-kind donations of equipment, materials, office space, volunteer assistance, training, educational materials, and so on.

Manage Resources Effectively

A Board of Directors will work with the Executive Director to ensure the organization is suing its resources efficiently.  The Board develops and approves the annual budget, and ensures proper financial controls are in place.

Select the Director

One of the Board’s biggest responsibilities is to hire the executive officer of the organization.  The Board should come to consensus on a solid job description and clear expectations for the job, and then find the most qualified person for the position.

Support and Evaluate the Director

A Board of Directors is responsible for evaluating the performance of the executive officer.  Generally, the Director is responsible for hiring, firing and evaluating all other staff.  The Board plays a support role for the Director as they carry out human resource tasks and other work of the organization.

Recruiting New Board Members

A Board of Directors is responsible for its own growth and development, finding committed individuals to serve on the Board, and make sure that the final Board composition is balanced and appropriate.

Build Strong Public Standing

The Board serves as the public face of the organization.  Board members promote the mission, vision, and programs of the organization, and represent the organization positively to constituents, the media, and the general public.

Based on article written by Craig White from the Center for Participatory Change in North Carolina and materials from the National Center for Nonprofit Boards in Washington, DC.