Serving on a Nonprofit Board
Posted on Wednesday, May 16, 2018 Share
Before you make the commitment to become a board member for a nonprofit organization, there are a few things that you should understand and a few questions to ask.
First, as a board member you have certain responsibilities. These start with the basic legal duties of any board member.
- Duty of care – Actively participate in decision making based on informed judgements.
- Duty of loyalty – Putting the interests of the organization first before any personal or professional interests when making decisions for the organization.
- Duty of obedience – Making sure that the organization complies with all federal, state and local laws and remain faithful to the organization’s mission.
Beyond these basic legal duties, BoardSource has summarized the core responsibilities of board members into Ten Basic Responsibilities of Nonprofit Boards. Included in these responsibilities is evaluating the Executive Director, reviewing the organization’s finances, and building a competent board, among others.
After gaining an understanding of the basic responsibilities of any nonprofit board member, you should inquire as to additional expectations of the nonprofit. Often times organizations have specific board expectations in a written document signed by individual board members. These normally include such things as required attendance at board meetings, attendance at other programming events, expected financial support, participation in fund raising and/or special events, and committee service.
Other questions to ask the nonprofit before you commit to serving include the following.
- What is the organization’s mission?
- Who does the organization serve?
- How is the organization supported (contributions, government funding, service fees, etc.)?
- Is there a strategic plan in place? Ask to see a copy.
- Does the organization issue an annual report? Ask to see a copy.
- Does the organization receive an annual audit? Ask to see the most recent audit report.
- Has the organization filed its required Form 990? Ask to see the most recent form.
- Are all required payroll taxes paid?
- Does the organization have D&O (directors and officers) insurance coverage?
- What is the current make-up of the board? Who are the other board members?
- What are the organization’s committees?
- When does the board meet? How long are the meetings?
- What ways can I contribute as a board member (aside from financial support)?
After you have done your background research on the organization, you must decide if you are interested in serving on this board. Some questions to think about before you say yes.
- Do I support the organization’s mission?
- Can I meet all of the board members’ expectations?
- Am I able to financially support the organization?
Serving as a board member is big responsibility but it’s also an opportunity for you to broaden your perspective and grow your skills. It’s also one way that you can make your community a better place to live.
Posted by: Carrie Minnich, CPA
Posted in Mission Minded Nonprofits
Disclaimer: The information contained in Dulin, Ward & DeWald’s blog is provided for general educational purposes only and should not be construed as financial or legal advice on any subject matter. Before taking any action based on this information, we strongly encourage you to consult competent legal, accounting or other professional advice about your specific situation. Questions on blog posts may be submitted to your DWD representative.