The following basic resources aim to advance the understanding of what boards are, what they do, and how they govern while assisting those interested in serving on a board with information on how to become a volunteer nonprofit board member.
What is a Nonprofit Board of Directors?
A board of directors is a group of people who serve as the governing body of a nonprofit organization responsible for various aspects of leading and managing the work of the organization, including its strategic direction, legal compliance, and fiduciary sustainability.
What Does a Nonprofit Board Member Do?
Board members provide guidance and leadership to the nonprofit by contributing to the organization’s culture, strategic focus, and financial sustainability. Often, board members work on specific board committees to use their expertise in a particular area to support the organization (financial/audit, governing, marketing/communications; fundraising). A board member also serves as an ambassador for the organization representing it at events and introducing its work to others in the community.
Who Can Serve as a Nonprofit Board Member?
Generally, anyone over 18 who is able and willing to fulfill the legal and organizational responsibilities may serve as a board member. Please check with your state for specific laws governing who can serve in your area.
What are the Legal Responsibilities of a Nonprofit Board Member?
According to the Council of Nonprofits (councilofnonprofits.org), a nonprofit board member has three primary legal duties:
- Duty of Care: Take care of the nonprofit by ensuring prudent use of all assets, including facility, people and goodwill;
- Duty of Loyalty: Ensure that the nonprofit’s activities and transactions are, first and foremost, advancing its mission; recognize and disclose conflicts of interest; make decisions that are in the best interest of the nonprofit corporation; not in the best interest of the individual board member or any other individual or for-profit entity.
- Duty of Obedience: Ensure that the nonprofit obeys applicable laws and regulations; follows its own bylaws; and that the nonprofit adheres to its stated corporate purposes/mission.
Sample Board Member Job Descriptions
Sample Board Member Interview Questions
- 5 Questions to Ask Before You Join A Board
- Critical Interview Questions for Nonprofit Board Members
- 4 Sneaky-Good Questions to Ask Prospective Board Members