The purpose of a nonprofit board of directors is to advance an organization's mission through leadership and guidance.
If you don’t identify nonprofit board positions and tell your board members what they should be working on, you’ll have many people trying to do the same task. Or you may wind up with projects that no one’s working on at all! You need clearly-defined roles to keep the organization moving toward its goals.
It’s important to define the roles and responsibilities of each board member so everyone knows where to focus their time and efforts.
Common Nonprofit Board Positions
There are four key nonprofit board positions, usually called the board officers:
Chair (or President)
The board Chair is the main point of contact for the Executive Director. The board Chair makes sure board members are meeting their expectations and helps them understand their duties.
This person should be an enthusiastic leader, a strategic thinker, and be well educated about your organization.
Key responsibilities for the board Chair include:
- Acting as main contact between Executive Director and other board members
- Setting meeting agenda and high level strategy with the board
- Clarifying board member expectations and holding them accountable
- Appointing committee members
- Helping to bring on new board members
- Acting as a representative for the organization
Vice Chair (or Vice President)
The Vice Chair should have similar qualities as the Chair. They'll be the person who fills in for the Chair if they're absent and will most likely replace the Chair if needed.
The primary duties of the Vice Chair include:
- Acting as board Chair when they’re absent
- Assisting with board Chair duties
- Managing various committees
- Working with HR on talent management
The role of the Secretary is mostly administrative. They record meeting minutes (notes) and send important information to board members. This person needs to be organized, detail oriented, and a good communicator.
Key responsibilities of the Secretary position include:
- Recording board meeting minutes and sharing them with other board members
- Scheduling and sharing board meetings
- Sending out documents before meetings
- Documenting votes and decisions of board
- Making sure bylaws are being followed
The Treasurer is all about the money! They review financial statements so they need to have experience with accounting and budgets. Anyone in this role needs to be trustworthy and good with details.
The main duties of the treasurer are:
- Tracking organization finances and managing budget,
- Sharing financial information at meetings,
- Making recommendations that support the organization's mission,
- Serving as Chair of the finance committee,
- Managing tax-related documents, and
- Signing financial and legal documents.
Other board members help the organization reach its goals by working on committees and helping the board make the best decisions.
So… Do I Need Board Committees?
Nonprofit board committees are a great idea! There’s just not enough time to cover everything during a regular board meeting. Board committees let members focus on specific areas of the organization and reach bigger goals.
Ideally, every board member will serve on just one or two committees. This gives the members the time they need to focus on the priorities of their committee.
Board committees should have a description of their roles so they know what their priorities are. These roles are decided by the whole board.
Some common nonprofit board committees include fundraising, marketing and communications, programs, finance, board recruitment, and executive or governance committees which deal specifically in board operations.
Other committees can be formed on an as-needed basis.
Clear Roles = Reached Goals!
A clear structure and shared understanding of the roles and duties of your nonprofit board will help you make the most effective decisions to reach your goals. Adding passionate board members with a variety of backgrounds is a great way to be successful and further your mission!
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