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A non profit's board of directors has several important responsibilities to fulfill. This article reviews basic non-profit board governance.
A board of directors is the governing body of a non-profit organization. It has many serious responsibilities, which can be loosely categorized as follows:
1. Setting the policy for the organization. This is done by:
* Creating or updating the mission and vision statements.
* Determining the organization’s programs and services.
* Approving the strategic plan.
2. Monitoring the organization’s operations:
* Hiring and periodically evaluating the organization’s executive director.
* Working with and providing support to the executive.
* Approving the annual budget, annual report, etc.
* Approving major contracts and grants.
* Soliciting and reviewing program evaluations.
* Troubleshooting as necessary.
3. Serving as a public figure for the organization
* Fundraising, by directly donating to the non-profit and soliciting donations from others.
* Advocating for the organization.
4. Fufilling other board responsibiltiies
* Documenting policies and decisions to create an organizational memory.
* Preparing for and attending board meetings.
* Researching and discussing issues before decisions are made.
* Replacing and orienting board members when a vacancy arises.
A board of directors also has certain legal obligations, known as duties. While the details may vary from state to state, here are some common legal responsibilities for members of non-profit boards to:
* Take reasonable care when making decisions for the organization (called “duty of care”)
* Act in the best interest of the organization (called “duty of loyalty”)
* Act in accordance with the organization’s mission (called “duty of obedience”)
* Stand aside when there is a conflict of interest (called “recusal”)
While there a board has many responsibilities, there are also things it should avoid. Basically, board members should avoid being over- or under-involved. More specifically, the board of directors should not:
* Concern itself with the day-to-day management of the organization. That is the executive director’s job.
* Rubber stamp decisions. While the board should take the recommendations of the organization’s director, staff, and members into consideration, the board needs to be an independent decision-making body.
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