The Platonic Ideal Statement of Nonprofit Board Member Responsibilities

Though written originally for an arts organization, this statement of nonprofit Board member responsibilities will work for every nonprofit group.

 Responsibilities of Board Members

1. Attend monthly board meetings to review operations of the company.

• Board meetings are an opportunity for the Executive Director to report on the company's current programs and plans. They are also an opportunity for Board members to report to one another on the progress of Board projects, such as the planning of the annual benefit event. Finally, they permit the Board to compare actual company revenue and expenses to revenue and expenses as shown in the budget, to assure that the company is and remains financially sound.

2. Attend, and encourage others to attend, all company performances.

• Board members are the company's "ambassadors" to the community; your enthusiasm for the troupe, and your willingness to introduce new audience members to its work, will assure that it has a solid future.

3. Participate in the planning and execution of the annual fundraising benefit.

• This includes helping to persuade businesses and individuals to donate necessary items to the benefit, and persuading individuals and businesses to buy tickets to and attend the benefit. All Board members should also plan to attend the benefit themselves.

4. Make a personal contribution of at least $200 to the company each year.

• Board members may arrange to have someone else (e.g. an employer) make this contribution on their behalf; but this is over and above any other contributions they may solicit on behalf of the company.

5. Participate in the creation, adoption and execution of a budget and fundraising plan which assures that the company has the resources it needs to continue to perform and to carry out its programs.

• Though not every member of the Board will serve on the Fundraising Committee every year, every member of the Board will review its recommendations, adopt its plan, and help assure that it is carried out.

6. Serve on at least one Board committee.

• Board committees include Fundraising (which plans the benefit and other fundraising activities, and coordinates the efforts of the Board to execute those plans) and Board Development (which identifies new candidates for service on the Board). Other committees may be formed as needed for particular projects.

7. Assure that the company's legal obligations are being met, and that the staff responsible for discharging them are being properly supervised.

• The company must file an annual report with the Illinois Secretary of State and another with the Internal Revenue Service, and the Board must make sure this is done timely. Naturally, the company must also abide by all other laws, and the Board must make sure this is done. "The buck stops here."

Time commitment: You can expect to spend between 6 and 10 hours each month fulfilling these responsibilities.

Board terms: Board members are elected for one-year terms (expiring September 30). However, at its next meeting the Board will be asked to amend the Bylaws to create three-year terms, with one-third of the Board elected each year. If the amendment is adopted, Board members will draw lots to determine if their term will be one, two or three years long. All Board members may run for reelection at the end of their initial term.

Benefits of Board Membership

Why would anyone take on the responsibilities we've just listed?

• Because they love dance, and want to have an opportunity to foster one of Chicago's dance treasures.

• Because they have skills--in planning events, in publicizing, in computers or budgets or whatever--that they'd like to use on behalf of a good cause.

• Because they have talents--again, in events or publicity or fundraising--that their jobs don't use and that they'd like to develop.

• Because they'd like to meet and spend time working with other people who share their passion for the arts in general, dance in particular, and this troupe most especially.

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    Nonprofiteer

    The Nonprofiteer is Kelly Kleiman, principal of NFP Consulting, which provides Board development, strategic planning and fund-raising services to charities and philanthropies. Through her consulting practice and in her guise as The Nonprofiteer, Kelly has spent the past 25-plus years helping small and mid-sized nonprofits organize themselves better and raise more money. These days she focuses especially on helping them use high-skill volunteers. Kelly is also a lawyer and freelance journalist whose reportage and essays have appeared in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, Christian Science Monitor and other dailies; in magazines including In These Times and Chicago Philanthropy; in the alternative press; on websites including the Huffington Post; and on the radio, including the BBC and WBEZ Chicago Public Radio. She and her fellow "Dueling Critic" Jonathan Abarbanel present a weekly podcast of their reviews of Chicago theater at DuelingCritics.net. Earlier in her career she was dean of admissions of IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law and Executive Director of the Chicago Children’s Choir, and practiced real estate and zoning law with the firm of Rudnick & Wolfe. Kelly holds undergraduate and law degrees from the University of Chicago. She was a founding Board member of the Association of Consultants to Nonprofits and also served for 5 years on the Board of the Association for Women Journalists–Chicago. She can be reached ("Dear Nonprofiteer . . .") at KellyNFP@yahoo.com.

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