Tulsa Hispanic Chamber

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Boardsmanship Basics:      

Board Responsibilities

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Staying on Board


Board service offers tremendous potential for both personal and organizational growth.  At the same time, such service, if properly carried out, demands dedication and commitment.  It is, after all, a fiduciary relationship.  Periodically, board members should reflect upon their roles and responsibilities and assess the degree to which they are successfully carrying them out. 


Following are 10 basic responsibilities of nonprofit board members.


The board determines the organization’s mission and purpose.

A written mission statement should clarify the purpose of the organization, its clientele, and its guiding principles.  The mission statement spells out why the organization exists, whom it serves, and what its core values are.


The board selects the chief executive.


The board supports the chief executive and reviews his/her performance.

The board prepares job descriptions, evaluates performance in light of the strategic plan, gives feedback, and assists when paid or volunteer staff  are unclear about roles and responsibilities.  The chief executive, then, implements the board’s  will within the parameters set by the board.


The board ensures effective organizational planning.

The board develops the strategic or long range plan that becomes the “roadmap” to guide all agency activities.  Planning is monitored throughout the year to assess progress, revise plans if necessary, and move ahead.  Often, the board will develop a more short-term plan, typically a one-year “plan of work.”


The board ensures adequate resources.

The board connects fundraising formally, through fundraising plans, and informally, through community influence, contacts, professional and personal relationships.  All board members are responsible for fundraising, not just the committee assigned to this area.  When fundraising is absent, the important work of the nonprofit cannot occur.


The board manages resources effectively.

Property and other financial resources are supervised by the board.  The annual budget is approved and monitored by the board at regular intervals.  The board arranges for an annual audit, either done by appropriate volunteers or paid professionals, and all receive a copy of its findings.


The board determines and monitors the organization’s programs and services.

Considering client and community needs and resources, the board determines which programs and services will be offered, analyzes costs, and allocates staff and budget.  Be careful to distinguish between the board’s responsibility to be aware of and monitor programs and services, from board over-reaching – literally stepping in and running those programs and services. 


The board enhances the organization’s public image.

Serving as a link between and among staff, volunteers, members, clients, and community, the board connects the public through media, networking and other avenues.  While the chief executive is the primary organization spokesperson, the board designs a comprehensive public relations strategy.  Public relations and marketing is a standard area of committee involvement on most boards.


The board serves as a court of appeal.

While solid personnel procedures minimize this task, the board may be asked for its judgment on prickly personnel matters by the chief executive.  Personnel matters could conceivably result in legal actions against the organization that could affect board members.


The board assesses its own performance.

Every one to three years, the board and chief executive should stand back from their usual preoccupations and reflect on how well the board is meeting its own responsibilities.  Some questions to ask include:  How well did we do at meeting our goals?  How well do our committees function?  How effectively do we operate as a board?  How well-run are our board meetings?

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As a volunteer, it is all too tempting to take lightly the serious responsibility of board service.  From time to time, it helps to be reminded of the importance of our commitments.  The rewards for such service, serious responsibility notwithstanding, should be sufficient to sustain the large and talented pool of volunteers Tulsa has been blessed with through the years.