Decisions in the functioning of nonprofits are almost always made by the board. Board members can also be held legally responsible if unethical decisions are made and carried out by a nonprofit. It is important to know what your board should be doing for your organization. Check out the following list of board responsibilities.

  • establish mission and purpose
  • select the executive director
  • support and evaluate the executive director
  • set policies and ensure effective planning
  • monitor and strengthen programs and services
  • ensure adequate financial resources
  • protect assets and provide proper financial oversight
  • build a competent board
  • ensure legal and ethical integrity
  • enhance the organization’s public standing

The way to ensure that your board is carrying out these responsibilities in a manner that will be most effective for the organization is to implement some of the following best practices for boards:

  • Determine a board size that best fits your organization. The board should be large enough that there is proper representation, but not so large that everyone in the organization is on the board.
  • Establish a quorum, or a minimum number of members that must be present for a meeting to be valid. This will depend on the size of your board.
  • Carefully planned meetings are the most effective. Be sure to keep your board on track throughout the meeting. 
  • Ensure that the executive director and the board operate independently of one another to avoid a conflict of interests.
  • Setting term limits for board members allows the organization to periodically make changes that would be most beneficial to all involved.
  • Implementing board committees allows all board members to utilize their talents where most appropriate. This can also help the organization save on resources.
  • Board members who perform executive director evaluations help to keep everyone on the same page and the organization moving forward. They also work to clarify expectations.

The Foundations of East Chicago is a resource for all local nonprofit organizations. For more information and tips for your nonprofit, visit

Nonprofit Board Roles and Responsibilities