Role of board of directors in non-profit organizations

A non-profit organization’s purpose is to provide any type of aid or support to the community in which its operations are taking place. Also, an essential part of its structure is the board of directors.

This functions as the main governing body to oversee the organizations daily activities, manage its assets, finances, and resources to fulfill the mission and vision that have been established.

But what are the specific responsibilities of the board of directors? Beyond the duties we mentioned above, the board of directors can be a valuable resource in different ways.

Responsibilities of a Nonprofit Board of Directors

The board of directors is what leads of the organization; as such, they have to provide a strategic insight and foresight of its structure, effectiveness, culture, public relations, legal obligations, and human resources.

The board’s obligations differ from those of the volunteers and paid staff. As the governing body of the organization, their primary responsibility lies in setting goals, accomplishing objectives, and ensuring the fulfillment of its programs.

They make significant decisions on behalf of the organization involving the legal obligations and compliance of the laws at all levels. The most important part is that they do so while separating their interests from the organization’s needs.

However, that’s just a part of it. The board of directors is also obligated to evaluate the financial status and make decisions regarding the use of resources.

In that sense, they have to approve the annual budget, look over the financial policy, and continuously check on the results obtained to honor the organization’s economic obligations.

Members of a Nonprofit Board of Directors

Board of directors' meeting

Typically, amongst the board members, they vote to select several officers to fulfill a specific obligation or role.

Therefore, while still being a board member, an officer has an extra responsibility serving specific terms. In some cases, it is an individual from outside the board but with a strong sense of commitment.

That is, of course, if the organization bylaws do not state otherwise.

Commonly, the principal officers’ roles elected by a non-profit board of directors are: President, Secretary, and Treasurer:


The President is the head of the board and its leader. He oversees everything related to the board’s activities and endeavors.

Also, it is important to clarify that the board’s president and the organization’s CEO are two separate roles, the first serves as the governance body and the second as the leader of management.

Another important fact is that companies develop more efficiently when the President works with the team as a leader, instead of acting like the traditional boss.


The Secretary is the President’s right hand, thus helps the President organizing the agenda of every meeting to go item after item in order of importance.

They are in charge of the documents regarding the board’s activities and are responsible for internal communications between workers.

The Secretary is also expected to put out the board’s correspondence to all of its members and informs them about future meetings.


The Treasurer is the officer in charge of keeping track of the organization financial status and is the leading voice in every economic matter.

They communicate to all the board members about the financial wellbeing of the group; also, they are responsible for the income and expenses reports, and the elaboration of the board’s budget.

Attributes of a board member

When choosing the people to integrate the board, there might be many competencies to search for, like professional skills, teamwork, communication abilities, and commitment.

However, in this article from The Balance, there is a list of the attributes of a “good board member.”

Board member attributes according to Peri Pakroo

Board of Directors and Organizational Objectives

The board of directors serves as the brain of the organization; they are the ones to confront the problems and challenges using creative and innovative techniques.

Board members need to be well aware of the changes in the economy and society to propose the best plan to accomplish the strategic objectives they have established.

To do so, they have to align measurable goals and objectives to the organization’s mission, so they can keep track of how close they are to fulfilling them and define next steps.

This is not something a board should take lightly, the correct path to comply with organizational objectives are fundamental in every organization.

Board members have to understand their role, the mission of the non-profit, and how the organization is funded.

Many non-profits use the board of directors as the main fundraisers, but that’s not the typical case. If you want to know more about fundraising, click here: How to raise money for a non-profit.

Final thoughts

The Board of Directors is key for an organization’s decision-making process. So be sure that every member is chosen very carefully because the board as a whole has the steering wheel to guide the non-profit to its success, so every individual conforming it should be aiming for that.

Remember that an organization is only as good as the people working in it at all levels.