Best Practices

KCSourceLink: 10 Responsibilities of Nonprofit Boards

Published Jun 05, 2014

CEOs, presidents, directors—these are the likely titles and the likely leaders of a for-profit company. Nonprofits, however, are led differently. Their direction is determined and their organizations are governed by a volunteer board.

Thanks to our Resource Partners the Midwest Center for Nonprofit Leadership and Entrepreneurial Legal Services at UMKC, we have some tips to help your nonprofit pull together a ready, willing and diverse board of directors to guide your nonprofit organization.

How many people should serve on your nonprofit boards?

The required number of board members for a nonprofit varies state to state: three in Missouri, one in Kansas. Seven, however, seems to be the optimal number, regardless of minimums set by states.

What are the key duties of nonprofit boards?

The Internal Revenue Service believes that governing boards should be composed of persons who are informed and active. In essence, your board should be thoughtful and prudent while carrying out their three main duties:

  • Duty of Care – be an ordinary and practical person.
  • Duty of Loyalty – act in good faith and in the best interest of the organization.
  • Duty of Obedience – obey the law.

What will be the responsibilities of your nonprofit board?

While your board may have several responsibilities specific to your organization, here are 10 key responsibilities for every nonprofit board.

  1. Determine the mission and purpose. Shape and uphold the organization’s mission, articulate a compelling vision and ensure the congruence between decisions and core values.
  2. Select the chief executive. This may not be the person who established the organization.
  3. Support and assess the executive. Govern in constructive partnership with the chief executive, recognizing that CVO and ED are interdependent.
  4. Ensure effective organizational planning Continuously engage in strategic thinking to hone the organizations direction.
  5. Determine and monitor programs. Measure the organizations advancement toward mission and evaluate the performance of major programs and services.
  6. Ensure ethical and legal integrity and maintain accountability Create a culture of transparency to ensure the donors and all stakeholders have access to appropriate accurate information regarding finances, operations and results.
  7. Assess and develop board effectiveness Embrace the qualities of continuous learning, evaluating their own performance and the value they add to the organization. They energize themselves through planned turnover, thoughtful recruitment and inclusiveness.
  8. Enhance public image Nonprofit boards should be independent-minded, putting the interests of the board above themselves.
  9. Ensure adequate resource Link bold visions and ambitious plans to financial support, expertise and networks or influence.
  10. Prove proper financial oversight Promote strong ethical values and disciplined compliance and active oversight.

Where you can get more help for your nonprofit organization?

In our network of 200+ resource organizations, we have Resource Partners that help for-profits and nonprofits like yours grow.

Start with our Resource Navigator. 
Under Area of Assistance, select Nonprofit Development—and then choose your Specific Need: Board Development, Fund Development, Organizational Audits, Strategic Planning, Accounting, Human Resources or Technical Services. Our Resource Navigator will search through our network and deliver the right resource for your need. Easy peasy.

Search our Class and Event Calendar.
Browse it all or filter your results: under Choose Subject, select Nonprofit Development. 

Content contributed by Jenny Neppter, KCSourceLink.  KCSourceLink is a proud affiliate of U.S.SourceLink, America's largest resource network for entrepreneurs.