A Publication of WTVP

Whether helping families in need, supporting the arts or addressing other community needs, nonprofit organizations make our world a better place. They also offer unique opportunities to individuals who wish to support these important causes through board service.

Serving on a nonprofit board offers multiple benefits:

A Board Member’s Role
Board membership, however, comes with some significant responsibilities. It’s important to understand the board’s role and what will be expected of you before you join. Namely, nonprofit boards are responsible for providing strategic leadership to an organization. That means setting the agency’s direction, making policy and strategic decisions, overseeing and monitoring performance, and ensuring overall accountability.

As a board member, you also have a “fiduciary responsibility” to the nonprofits you serve. That means ensuring that funds are used appropriately. It requires adopting a budget, as well as policies and guidelines governing financial management, reporting and auditing. You will likely also be required to help with fundraising.

In carrying out your board responsibilities, you are required to follow certain legal and ethical standards of conduct. First, you have the “duty of due care.” That means you have a responsibility to ensure that the nonprofit’s assets, including its facilities and staff, are used prudently.

You also have a “duty of loyalty.” The decisions you make as a board member are to be made with the nonprofit’s best interests, rather than your own, in mind. Finally, you have the “duty of obedience.” As a board member, you are responsible for ensuring that the nonprofit sticks to its stated purpose and sponsors activities that advance its mission.

Board membership, in other words, requires diligence and hard work. But the rewards can be immeasurable, both for you and for the larger community that the nonprofit serves. iBi

Robert W. Swank, JD is a senior vice president and Illinois market executive for The Commerce Trust Company in Peoria. The Commerce Trust Company is a division of Commerce Bank.