Third and Fourth Sectors

The People Pages: Board Development

Over the next several weeks, I am going to publish some articles from The People Pages: Resources for Social Change. While some things have changed in the past ten years, including me and the depth of my knowledge, I still think there is some useful information in the articles.

from The People Pages: Resources for Social Change (c) 2003 The Fruition Coalition

An organization’s bylaws spell out the procedure for electing new officers; this is often the responsibility of a nominating committee.  Board members are volunteers and should not be compensated.  Usually one staff person (the Executive Director) is a voting member of the board.  A youth representative can be chosen; they usually do not have voting privileges.  Elected Officers are usually a President, Vice President, Secretary, and Treasurer.

Your board of directors should reflect the community you serve and should be diverse as appropriate.  A variety of expertise is essential and the following types of people should be considered for membership:

Program participants




Professionals that relate to your field, for example Social Worker, Psychologist, Visual Artist, Dancer, Techie, Clergy, Nurse

Business professionals in management, marketing, public relations, and/or human resources

Small business owners

Community activists/concerned citizens

Local government employees

Board Committees may include fundraising, special events, nominating, executive, finance, marketing, human resources, ethics, facilities, public relations, and program development

Board responsibilities include:

  1. Hire and supervise the Executive Director
  2. Set the organizational mission
  3. Determine strategy to achieve the mission and set appropriate goals
  4. Oversee implementation of the strategy and monitor results
  5. Approve new policies
  6. Represent the organization in public
  7. Ensure financial strength of the organization
  8. Approve annual operating budget
  9. Ensure that organizational activities are ethical and legal
  10. Solicit funds from their circle of friends and colleagues
  11. Contribute funds (depending on the nature of the organization, participants may not be expected to contribute)
  12. Attend the organization’s community events such as fundraisers and open houses
  13. Attend other organization’s events
  14. Share expertise as needed
  15. Bylaws should specify attendance policies, procedure to elect officers, voting/quorum requirements, length of service, and term limits

An Advisory Council should consist of community leaders, legislators, and foundation representatives.  Advisory councils usually meet once each year.

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