So you’ve been asked to be a board member

So you’ve been asked to serve on the board of a nonprofit organization. What do you need to know? You want to learn enough about the organization to do a good job as a director. You should also understand that there is potential legal liability for serving as a board member. Since nonprofit organizations do not have owners or shareholders, directors are responsible for the actions of the organization.

This post assumes that you are familiar with the terms used in the documents below and that you can read and understand financial statements. If not, don’t worry, you will pick it up quickly. Jut be sure to seek out other help with these business skills.

I suggest that all board members of all nonprofit organizations should read the current version of the following:

  1. Articles of incorporation or association
  2. Organization’s bylaws
  3. Any amendments to either the articles of incorporation or the bylaws
  4. Recent board meeting minutes
  5. A list of the current officers , directors, committees and their chairpersons
  6. The IRS tax-exempt determination letter
  7. Latest tax return
  8. Most recent financial statements and accountant’s report
  9. State charities registration filing, if applicable
  10. Mission statement
  11. Organization’s web site
  12. Conflict of interest policies for board members
  13. Directors and officers liability insurance policy
  14. Insurance summary of the organization

Well managed nonprofit organizations should have this information easily available. I suggest that an online shared file directory (like Google Drive or OneDrive) is the most practical way to manage and share this information. The group’s accountant and attorney should have their own copy of each key document.

Discuss any item that isn’t clear or does not make sense. At this point you’ll be ready to serve as a strong position to serve as a well-informed board member for your organization.

For more information on improving performance of nonprofit organizations, request a copy of my booklet “What every nonprofit  board member should know”. It is free to officers and directors of nonprofit organizations.

Need more information? Please let me know how to reach you for a free consultation. I serve clients across the country by phone or Skype or can meet in person in the Philadelphia region. Your contact information is not shared with anyone.

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