3 Things You Need to Know About Nonprofit Boards

Since I started working in a nonprofit, I have learned what a great opportunity and responsibility it is to be on the board of a nonprofit. Also, I also realized that many people, aren’t familiar with the important work of nonprofit boards. In light of this, I looked up 3 things you need to know about nonprofit boards:

  1. What do nonprofit board members do?

  2. Are nonprofit board members paid?

  3. How are nonprofit board members chosen?

What do Nonprofit Board Members do?

Simply put, the goals and mission of a nonprofit organization is overseen by its Board of Directors. Similar to other fields, the board of directors are considered fiduciaries. As defined by GuideStar:

Nonprofit Board of Directors

“A fiduciary is someone acting on the behalf of another based on an expectation of trust. A nonprofit’s board is the central decision making body for the organization. It has ultimate responsibility and accountability for the organization’s actions.”

Source: GuideStar Blog: A Nonprofit Board’s Fiduciary Responsibility

Primarily, there are three fiduciary duties that a nonprofit board accepts:

  1. Duty of Care

  2. Duty of Loyalty

  3. Duty of Obedience

Are Nonprofit Board Members Paid?

No, usually nonprofit board members are volunteers. Concerning this, the National Council of Nonprofits explains that board members are not usually compensated. However, they may be reimbursed for expenses incurred while performing their duty as a board member. Often, an organization’s bylaws will include a section regarding board compensation.

How are Nonprofit Board Members Chosen?

Typically, this is outlined in the organization’s bylaws and can vary. You may have seen a nonprofit post new opportunities to serve as a board member on their website. Or, you may have been recruited by a board member. Both of these are common methods to find potential board members. When it comes to choosing or electing new board members, there are two common ways:

  1. Election by the Board

  2. Election by the Members

Often the work of board members is unseen to those they serve. As explained by the IRS:

“Governing boards should be composed of persons who are informed and active in overseeing a charity’s operations and finances…. Successful governing boards include individuals who not only are knowledgeable and engaged, but selected with the organization’s needs in mind…”

Source: IRS Publication: Governance and Related Topics – 501(c)(3) Organizations Section 3

In the end, it is a significant commitment and a great honor to serve on the board of a nonprofit. Even though it’s a big responsibility, it’s also a great opportunity to grow professionally and personally. 

#Nonprofit #NonprofitBoardofDirectors #NonprofitIndustry

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