You’re a Board Member! Now What?


You’ve just become a member of an organization’s board of directors. Congratulations! Did you know that the primary role of a board member includes guiding the organization’s future, creating governance and financial management policies, and ensuring that adequate resources exist to advance the organization’s mission? Did you know that a board member’s main role is to serve as a fiduciary of the organization as each member is legally responsible for managing the organization’s assets and overseeing that funds received from donors and grant makers are used for the intended purposes?

Top 8 Board Member Responsibilities

“Since much of the conversation at recruitment time is spent focused on the vision and mission of the organization, sometimes specific board and fiduciary responsibilities aren’t communicated.” says Kirsten Houghton, Principal at SVA Certified Public Accountants. To recruit a high functioning, effective board, she recommends that the following responsibilities be discussed during the recruitment process:

  1. Mission and Purpose. Board members must commit their energies to ensure that the mission is considered and followed when making strategic and programmatic decisions. 
  2. Leadership Support. The board of directors ensures that management understands their responsibilities and provides the support needed to management to assist in furtherance of the goals of the organization.
  3. Strategic Planning. To create and adhere to an effective strategic plan, board members must actively participate in the planning process by creating and developing objectives and goals to guide the use of the organization’s resources.
  4. Financial Resources. Board members, or a subset of the board, can assist with development of the organization’s annual budget and create strategies to obtain adequate financial resources to fulfill the organization’s mission.
  5. Board Recruitment. To create a dynamic and diverse board of directors, prerequisites for potential new board members should be developed and followed during the recruitment process. Orienting new board members and evaluating each member’s performance will keep the board of directors functioning effectively as time passes.
  6. Programs and Services. The mission of the organization should be reflected in the organization’s program service offerings. Each board member is responsible for reviewing current and proposed program services to determine if each aligns with the vision and mission of the organization.
  7. Legal and Ethical Standards. Board members are responsible for adhering to legal and ethical norms by collectively exhibiting diligence and commitment to compliance, transparency, and accountability of the actions of board members.
  8. Asset Protection. Every organization’s goal is to generate and hold assets to provide for the financial support of the mission. Board members are responsible for safeguarding those assets on behalf of the donors to ensure the funds are spent as intended.

Education is Key: SVA is Here to Help

Board member education is the key to creating and sustaining an effective board. “As part of SVA’s ongoing commitment to the community, we offer a customized Board Building Training Series that brings the organization’s leadership and board members together to participate in hands-on educational training,” says Houghton. “When our training program is completed, board members will not only understand board governance but they will also learn their roles and responsibilities in connection with their service to the organization.” 

(c) SVA Certified Public Accountants

Biz Tip Topic Expert: Kirsten Houghton, CPA, MBA

Kirsten Houghton, CPA, MBA

Kirsten is a Principal with SVA Certified Public Accountants and her expertise includes the nonprofit and real estate industries. In addition to providing audit, accounting, and tax services, Kirsten also provides review, compilation, and management advisory services.


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