Building Leadership

What Are the Basic Responsibilities of Nonprofit Boards?

Ten Basic Responsibilities of Nonprofit Boards

  1. Determine mission and purpose. It is the board's responsibility to create and review a statement of mission and purpose that articulates the organization's goals, means, and primary constituents served.
  2. Select the chief executive. Boards must reach consensus on the chief executive's responsibilities and undertake a careful search to find the most qualified individual for the position.
  3. Support and evaluate the chief executive. The board should ensure that the chief executive has the moral and professional support he or she needs to further the goals of the organization.
  4. Ensure effective planning. Boards must actively participate in an overall planning process and assist in implementing and monitoring the plan's goals.
  5. Monitor and strengthen programs and services. The board's responsibility is to determine which programs are consistent with the organization's mission and monitor their effectiveness.
  6. Ensure adequate financial resources. One of the board's foremost responsibilities is to secure adequate resources for the organization to fulfill its mission.
  7. Protect assets and provide proper financial oversight. The board must assist in developing the annual budget and ensuring that proper financial controls are in place.
  8. Build a competent board. All boards have a responsibility to articulate prerequisites for candidates, orient new members, and periodically and comprehensively evaluate their own performance.
  9. Ensure legal and ethical integrity. The board is ultimately responsible for adherence to legal standards and ethical norms.
  10. Enhance the organization's public standing. The board should clearly articulate the organization's mission, accomplishments, and goals to the public and garner support from the community.


Sources Used For This Article:

Richard T. Ingram, Ten Basic Responsibilities of Nonprofit Boards, Second Edition (BoardSource 2009).

This work by The Bridgespan Group is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License. Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at Bridgespan's Terms of Use page.

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Hi Mac,

Thank you for submitting your question.
While we are not best equipped to answer this question may I suggest that if you are a board member yourself you join our nonprofit board group on LinkedIn and ask the question of the community?

Here is the link with more information about our LinkedIn groups:

Just make sure your nonprofit board is listed on your profile and we can approve you to join. We also offer groups for nonprofit CEOs, COO, CFO, Marketing, Fundraising, etc.

7/13/2015 9:14:12 AM

Mac Sauer
Our Board is made up of 6 elected officers and 13 appointed Committee Chairmen, and it handles the business of the organization. Should the appointed Committee Chairs be allowed to vote on all business that comes before the Board?
7/11/2015 7:43:24 PM

Carole Matthews
Hi Lisa, has a number of resources that may be of help.

- The Nonprofit CEO Transitions Resource Center (

- The Nonprofit Board’s Role in Onboarding a New CEO (

- Finding the Right Nonprofit Leader (

- You may also be interested in joining Bridgespan's Nonprofit Board LinkedIn group for support (

While we don’t specifically address the death of an executive director, the resources address what a board can do to manage the transition to a new CEO, the option of hiring interim executive management while the board determines the best next steps, and more. I hope these help.
6/15/2015 12:24:20 PM

Lisa Curtis
I want to know if a Executive Director of a Non-profit passes away, what is the responsibility of the Board to replace him/her?
What's the process? And how do we go about it?

Lisa Curtis
6/3/2015 9:23:10 AM

Ricky Gray
We are 503 C(3) Community Center for Hearing Loss, We were denied for any grants because of improper Board members.
Questions: Who should be on Board of Directors? and Who should not be on Board?
We have 5 ordinary people on the Board, Isn't that ok?
3/23/2014 1:20:36 PM

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