What does a Non-Profit Board do? (with pictures)

Patrick Roland
Patrick Roland
A board is traditionally made up of several members.
A board is traditionally made up of several members.

A non-profit board is responsible for steering a charitable organization in its management, policies and goals. Boards come in many sizes and structures, but all primarily share the same duties. From fundraising to operations management to goal setting and more, these diverse groups hold all of the power for a non-profit organization.

The term "non-profit" does not mean that the charities do not make money, instead, it simply means they exist to provide a service to the community, not to earn money. A board traditionally is made up of several members, ranging from a few to well over 10 in some cases. These members are not employees of the charity organization but usually businesspeople and citizens from the community. These members rarely are compensated for the time and effort, and they see it as an act of charitable service.

The primary responsibility of a non-profit board is to make sure the organization is living up to its expectations.
The primary responsibility of a non-profit board is to make sure the organization is living up to its expectations.

The primary responsibility of a non-profit board is to make sure the organization is living up to its expectations. The group gets together frequently to review its mission statement and policies, to ensure that they are being performed by the charity. If they find these expectations are not being met, the board has the power to change policies.

A non-profit board also is in charge of operations for the entire organization. This does not mean they supervise the hiring of every employee, but rather they steer upper-management hiring. Presidents and managers frequently must meet with the board to report progress, and when there is a vacancy in one of these positions, the board normally makes the new hiring decision.

Non-profit boards evaluate the effectiveness of different initiatives.
Non-profit boards evaluate the effectiveness of different initiatives.

Finances are another key concern for a non-profit board. The board routinely investigates the books of the non-profit organization, noting whether the incoming and outgoing money meets expectations. They also are in charge of dealing with fundraising plans. The board frequently determines how much money the organization will need to operate and makes suggestions about ways to raise the needed money.

Non-profit boards might oversee events, such as a charity run.
Non-profit boards might oversee events, such as a charity run.

The non-profit board, or at least its president, normally functions as the public face of the organization. When interviews with the media need to be completed, members of the board often step in front of the microphone because of their inside knowledge and expertise. Members of the board frequently also is expected to make appearances at public events in order to help promote the non-profit organization.

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    • A board is traditionally made up of several members.
      A board is traditionally made up of several members.
    • The primary responsibility of a non-profit board is to make sure the organization is living up to its expectations.
      The primary responsibility of a non-profit board is to make sure the organization is living up to its expectations.
    • Non-profit boards evaluate the effectiveness of different initiatives.
      Non-profit boards evaluate the effectiveness of different initiatives.
    • Non-profit boards might oversee events, such as a charity run.
      Non-profit boards might oversee events, such as a charity run.
    • The American Cancer Society is a non-profit organization.
      The American Cancer Society is a non-profit organization.
    • Paralyzed Veterans of America is a non-profit organization.
      Paralyzed Veterans of America is a non-profit organization.