Nonprofit Board of Directors Responsibilities

February 5, 2021
February 5, 2021 Recruiterie

When you’re building a board of directors for your nonprofit, it’s important to know exactly what motivates each new member. Your board will play a key role in determining your organization’s future, so choosing the right members to serve on the board is crucial. Identifying those who personally connect to your nonprofit’s mission and values can be a challenging effort. According to a Stanford Graduate School of Business survey, 27% of nonprofit directors feel like their organization’s board members don’t fully grasp the goals and plans of the organization they’re representing.

At Recruiterie, we want to help your nonprofit organization build the culturally-aligned leadership team it needs to succeed. In this article, we’ll give you an overview of what you need to know when you’re recruiting for roles on your leadership team or your board of directors. You’ll learn about what you should include in your nonprofit board of directors job description, an ideal nonprofit board of director’s skill set, the interview questions for nonprofit board members you should be asking, and how to determine a nonprofit board of director’s responsibilities.

A Comprehensive Guide to Hiring for Board of Directors Roles

Board of Directors Job Description

One of the key parts of any recruiting process is creating an accurate job description for the position you’re aiming to fill. If your nonprofit board of director’s job description is well-written, it will help potential board members understand the position and know how well it aligns with their own skillset.

When creating a nonprofit board of directors job description, there are a few things you’ll want to be sure to include. These include a summary of the position, what responsibilities are associated with it, and a list of the skills a qualified candidate should have.

Board of Directors Job Summary

A job summary is exactly what it sounds like — a straightforward explanation of the position you’re going through the recruiting process to fill. This section serves as a higher-level overview of the job description itself, letting interested people gain a quick sense of whether or not the position is right for them.

Your job summary for a board of directors position should be structured like any other job summary — that is to say, it should convey “highlights” of your description such as responsibilities, qualifications, and any other necessary information in an easy-to-read format. It should also be short, with a length between one and three paragraphs. Elsewhere in the job description, you can focus on providing more detailed information about the position.

Board of Directors Responsibilities

In the responsibilities or job duties section, you’ll have a chance to explain to potential board members what will be expected of them in your organization. Your list of nonprofit board of directors requirements should include board members’ major responsibilities, statements explaining these tasks in further detail, and an estimate of the percentage of time they can expect to spend on each responsibility.

Here are some common responsibilities you can expect board members to handle:

  • Understand your organization’s mission, what its rules are, and what it does
  • Secure financial resources for the organization and personally donate to it regularly
  • Advocate for the organization and use its connections to help it grow
  • Actively participate in at least one committee
  • Consistently attend board meetings

These aren’t the only nonprofit board of directors requirements you can include in your job description — you can add more based on your own organization’s needs. Still, this list should give you a strong starting point to work from.

Nonprofit Board of Directors Skills Set

While qualified board of directors candidates should possess certain skills, not all skills are created equal. You can break down these skills into four separate categories, as explained below:

  • Hard skills: These are “teachable” skills, the sort of things you might learn about in a class. In this context, ideal hard skills for a candidate to have could include business, finance, or law skills.
  • Soft skills: In contrast, soft skills are harder to measure. They’re often referred to as “people skills.” When you’re filling an opening on your board of directors, look for people passionate about your organization, who are natural leaders and fundraisers, and who can work well with others as part of a team.
  • Education: Having a master’s degree or doctorate — or at least a bachelor’s degree — can be highly beneficial to people serving on a board of directors. If a candidate has any specialized degrees or industry certifications relevant to the position or your organization, these should also be taken into account.
  • Experience: Though people that don’t have experience in your field can still do a good job as board members, experience can help take a candidate from good to great.

Nonprofit Board of Directors Interview Questions

Now that you’ve gained a better understanding of what your ideal candidate looks like, it’s time to talk about interview questions for nonprofit board members. We’ve put together a list of some questions you can ask potential board members, along with an explanation of each question and what to look for in candidates’ answers.

What do you know about us?
This question will help you determine who’s done their homework and who hasn’t, but more importantly, it’ll give you a sense of who genuinely cares about your organization. A good answer won’t just include specific details about the organization but will convey an unmistakable sense of passion.

How would you describe your experience and connections?
Here, candidates will have a chance to talk about their networks. They’ll also make it clear how willing they are to share that information with you.

What makes for a great board member?
By answering this question, potential board members will give you an idea of how well they understand the position’s duties and values. Look for people who know what serving on a board entails and who hold beliefs that align with your organization.

How flexible is your schedule?
This question is a straightforward one. Being a good board member means fulfilling certain duties, and doing that work takes time.

Board of Directors Salary

Setting a nonprofit board of director’s salary isn’t a one-size-fits-all process. You’ll need to consider the information you’ve gained about your candidate of choice, including their background, qualifications, and skills. Other factors can also play a role, like the industry your organization is in, the impact the position has on the board and the organization as a whole, and the pay the candidate could expect to receive in a similar position elsewhere.

However, you’ll need to start somewhere. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual pay for top executives was $104,690 in 2019. Use that number as a starting point, and adjust it based on the factors listed above.

Assemble a Talented Nonprofit Board of Directors

By now, you should have all the information you need to put together a board of directors that can lead your organization with confidence and expertise. While you’re looking for candidates for your board, give Recruiterie a try — we’re in the business of finding culturally-aligned talent, and we can make it even more likely that your board will be successful.

If you’d like to learn more about what Recruiterie’s executive search services can do for nonprofit organizations like yours, visit our nonprofit service page. Ready to get started? You can contact Recruiterie via phone at (602) 326-6820 or online.


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