Every day, individuals like yourself are motivated to start a nonprofit to help serve your community; the greater good and make a difference. Non-profits represent the best of America. They are a way for individuals to work together towards the common good, converting mutual ideas, beliefs and hopes into action. Non-profits foster civic engagement and leadership, promote economic growth, and strengthen the core of our communities. Starting and sustaining a nonprofit are not easy tasks. Our Introduction to Non-Profits Boot Camp will certainly help you in the process.
Building Your Non-Profit Board of Directors
One of the fundamental tasks facing the founders of any non-profit establishing a board of directors to oversee the organization. The board plays an essential legal and practical role in any nonprofit, even if others (such as an executive director, paid staff, or volunteers) handle the organization’s everyday affairs.
Here are some important pointers:
• Be sure you are building a board with the right task in mind. Boards have multiple roles, from fundraising to caretaking, governance, and oversight. Just like any company or corporation, it is important to do an assessment. Understand the skills that your particular non-profit needs to fulfill your mission.
• Choose people who understand your mission and who understand the value they bring is beyond their checkbook.
• Don’t overload the board with names. Choose a manageable number of individuals that will be genuinely active and contribute in a concrete manner. Not every person who donates money, even sizable amounts, should automatically be given a seat at the board table. Creating an advisory group or some other way to honor and engage people is useful.
• Make sure there is financial acumen built into the board. Ensure there are people who understand the audit committee, as this is vital for keeping track of an organization’s performance and integrity. Separately, financial planning and strategic planning are critical to a non-profit’s current and long-term health.
• Ensure that the board member is eager to engage with the organization and lend their expertise. Outline expectations and responsibilities up front.
• Have at least one genuinely independent member. It is helpful to have some people in the room who are neither donors nor beneficiaries and bring true independence to the discussion and oversight role of the board.
• Make sure people are coming to the board for the right reasons. Belief in the cause and a genuine interest in helping build a strong organization to address the non-profits cause. The individual’s commitment to the organization, not reputation should be deciding factor. By the same token, you want to make sure your objectives are in alignment and that both parties feel assured that their activities won’t taint one another.
• Identify a mix of individuals that have previously served on boards who will come in with experience with the boardroom with those who are new to the boardroom. Mixing those with experience with those who have not served on a board can marry best practice with enthusiasm and a desire to learn and contribute to the board.
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• Non-Profit Incorporation
• 501(c)(3) Represenatation
• IRS Audit
• Faith-Based Tax & Financial Advice
• Website Development
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Norma Lewis, JD
VP, Business Services & Development
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