Googled: Who Should be on a Nonprofit Board?

Philip Manzano • Oct 29, 2016

You Googled, we’ve answered. Everything you wanted to know about selecting members for your nonprofit board.


To know who should be on a nonprofit board it’s becomes important to first understand the responsibilities of a board. Generally, boards are responsible for:

Creating a structure, policies and procedures that support good governance.

Safeguarding the mission, ensuring the organization’s legal and financial health, and leading fundraising efforts.

Does that sound like something your are both qualified to do and excited to take on? Then maybe you are the type of person that should sit on a nonprofit or charity board!

Nonprofit board members should be able to move forward the mission of the organization it is serving. When selecting a board member you need to ask yourself what expertise your nonprofit can most benefit from at this time. Maybe you need to tighten up your budget, in which case it makes sense to recruit an individual with financial experience. Maybe you are in need of a re-vamp of your fundraising strategy and want to bring on someone with fundraising expertise. Alternatively, you may want someone to sit on your board that is directly connected to the community your organization serves. The type of board members you need at any given time can change based on the changing needs of your organization.

The National Council of Nonprofits (US) recommends doing an assessment of your current board to identify the gaps when looking for a new board member. If you are looking to put together your nonprofit’s first board of directors – or the founding board members – you are going to need to bring together a group with a lot of passion for your mission and great work ethic. For example, many organizations bring onto the founding board the individuals who came up with the idea in the first place.

What are some characteristics of a good board member? Bryan Stolle wrote in Forbes :

  • Great judgement
  • Relevant context
  • Wisdom
  • Motivation and interest
  • Style (compatibility with current board members)
  • Effective coach, mentor and sounding board
  • Courage

The board is at the heart of a nonprofit organization. It cannot function without one –legally! Nonprofits can operate without paid staff, without volunteers, or even without an executive director–but as a corporation, according to the Corporation’s Act, the board has to be there. For our Canadian readers, here is some of the nitty gritty laws governing the board of directors for corporations.

Looking for an opportunity to join a nonprofit board? Check out Idealist for current listings. Check out our tips for sabotaging a nonprofit board meetingonce you’ve found yourself a comfy position!

Guest Blogging with Keela!

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