Being a nonprofit board member is a rewarding, but serious responsibility. All the complex aspects of governing a nonprofit fall under the board’s purview. Research, and years of polling nonprofit board members nationwide, have evolved in best practices for nonprofit board members in the form of The Ten Basic Responsibilities of Nonprofit Boards. Each of these topics has volumes written about it to aid board members in carrying out their work successfully. I’ll list them all today then discuss each in more depth in a series of upcoming articles.

Taken together, these 10 responsibilities constitute a broad job description for nonprofit board members. However, in the coming weeks, I’ll share a concise, succinct version of a board job description and board mission statement.

10 Responsibilities of a Non-Profit Board:

  1. Determine mission and purposes, and advocate for them.
  2. Select the chief executive.
  3. Support and evaluate the chief executive.
  4. Ensure effective planning.
  5. Monitor and strengthen programs and services.
  6. Ensure adequate financial resources.
  7. Protect assets and provide financial oversight.
  8. Build and sustain a competent board.
  9. Ensure legal and ethical integrity.
  10. Enhance the organization’s public standing.

These cover the entire scope of governing a nonprofit organization. And, though they seem formidable, approached systematically, they create a logical pattern of dealing with key governance issues.

The above sequence is not random. They begin with the most encompassing responsibility: advocating for mission. Then deal with providing and working with the top leadership. On to planning and programs, so important for any organization. Once those are discussed, it goes into one of the most important board responsibilities: fundraising and financial oversight. Keeping the board strong is very critical to the success of all the others. Maintaining legal and ethical integrity keeps the organization above reproach. Finally, but in the same sphere as fundraising, to advocate for and enhance your organization’s stature and public standing.

In the next several weeks, I’ll go into more depth on each one, sharing a list of key elements, so you can track their relationship to one another. Share these with your board leadership and help them decide if your board is implementing these “best practices” used successfully by so many other nonprofits.