What Makes a Good Non Profit Board of Directors Click? Part One

Last week we offered some New Year’s resolutions for nonprofit boards. This week, we start a three-part series that offers some additional tips for you to ponder.

Non profit board of directors:

Firstly, Be Accountable

Sounds simple right? Often not. Many non-profits forget that their first order of business is to be a responsible, worthy and, yes, an accountable organization to the public.

That means some very basic things need to be part of an annual review of the board’s performance. Here are the most important critical performance standards:

The Mission

It is the responsibility of the board to determine the organization’s mission, which means:

  • what is the organization’s purpose?
  • what is the organization’s vision for the future?
  • what are the programs that will get them there?
  • what are the top priorities within each program to ensure the vision?


Selecting, reviewing annually and sometimes dismissing the CEO are critical

to the success the organization wants to achieve. The CEO is an active part of implementing the board’s vision.


Good internal financial safeguards are clearly important issues. How does a board ensure that all is well is an even bigger issue. Basically, through:

  • Good budgeting and good monthly board budget review. What is being spent monthly against the goal and in what categories? Where are the red flags? Dig deeper if flags are staring you in the face. It only gets worse.
  • An annual audit from an outside accounting firm will protect the organization. Never put it off. Donors expect to see an audit if asked and it will alert the board to any issues brewing.
  • Review investment policies at least annually and ensure that they are safeguarding the organization’s capital and/or endowment funds.
  • Raising money is one of the board’s biggest responsibilities. It can never be assigned to staff or to a consultant to do. All boards must get to know their most important donors and potential donors and actively identify, cultivate and solicit funds. Donors want to know that the board is a committed body of individuals who are ensuring that fundraising is successful on their watch.
  • Performance of programs through supporting the staff in implementing your organization’s programs, which have already been approved by the board and about which performance reports to the board are routinely given. Nothing more and nothing less.


To hear more from Nancy, visit the Brimhall & Associates website.

Photo: iStock by Getty Images.

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