A nonprofit board of directors has three roles: Setting organizational direction, Ensuring the organization has the necessary resources to do its work, and Providing oversight. Over the next few weeks, I will explain each of these roles and what they mean to the organization.
Setting Organizational Direction
It is the responsibility of the board to establish the mission of the organization and to write a mission statement. The mission statement should reflect the organization’s purpose, goals and who it serves. It is important to review the mission statement at least once each year to ensure the organization has not drifted from its purpose. It is perfectly alright to change your mission statement, but this should be the result of conscious decision making and not the result of inattention.
To set the direction of the organization, most organizations find it helpful to engage in strategic planning. Strategic planning provides an opportunity to look toward the future and ask the question, “Where do we want to be three years from now?” Then, after the plan is developed, it is the board’s role to ensure the organization is working toward its goals. Note that the board is not responsible for implementation of the plan…those efforts are usually a part of tactical planning which is the responsibility of the CEO.
It is the role of the CEO and staff to implement programs and services within the organization, but it is the role of the board to monitor the programs and services for effectiveness. As part of this monitoring, the board will want ensure that programs are in alignment with the organization’s mission.
Many nonprofits and ministries find that the lines between board responsibilities and staff responsibilities become blurred over time. This happens for a multitude of reasons. In my opinion, one of the best strategies to ensure boards know their specific roles and responsibilities is through education. Spend some time educating your board members; they will become more effective and engaged as a result.
Give us a call if we can provide board training or a board assessment for your organization. We are here to serve you!