Guest post by Lewis Lavine, CEO, Center for Nonprofit Management
What is at the heart of a successful nonprofit?
You might be inclined to answer the CEO, the staff, or perhaps the volunteers. But the real answer is the board of directors. The board creates the nonprofit, oversees its growth, governs its activities, renews its vision over time, and, if necessary, terminates its existence. So if you are a member of a nonprofit board, you have the responsibility for its success – and also for problems that might occur.
In fact, the principal responsibility of every nonprofit board is to lead its organization to pursue its vision and fulfill its mission. Board members have three key duties:
- Care: Board members must be diligent, attentive and informed about their agency and those it serves, using their time and skills to guide it forward.
- Loyalty: Members must act in good faith and in the best interests of the organization.
- Obedience: The board and its members must ensure that the organization operates within appropriate laws and rules.
In my role, I often see nonprofits that are dysfunctional -- the CEO and the board are at odds with one another, the board members meddle in management activities, or the members are passive and don’t participate at all.
Serving on a nonprofit board is one of the most rewarding volunteer activities for business and community leaders. If you have the opportunity to be a member of a nonprofit board, take it! But when you do, be diligent.
provides some excellent dos and don'ts for being a good nonprofit board member.
Lewis Lavine is one of five Nashville Area Chamber members answering your business questions in the Chamber's Ask the Expert program. Submit a question here.
The Center for Nonprofit Management has been a Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce member since 1992.