The charity board keeps order. It steers the organization in the direction of the mission statement, sets the strategic plan, sets goals and provides the resources to send the charity on its way. The founder of a charity assembles the charity board to help start and construct the nonprofit, even writing articles of incorporation, bylaws and determining the manner in which future board members will join. Organizationally, the board also hires staff from executives on down the line (so it's wise to have somebody with HR or hiring experience on the board).
One of the most important organizational tasks the board must take care of -- even when it's still just an "informal advisory committee" -- is to actually incorporate the charity as a nonprofit organization. This establishes it as a separate, legal organization, which exists separately from its founders and board, so it may continue in the event the founder or board members leave the organization. Incorporated status also protects all parties from any kind of personal liability, financial or legal.
One more thing: The number of members on your board is a legally binding figure. Check with state laws to find out minimums and maximums. (In some places, it's as low as one or even two.)
Related HowStuffWorks Articles
- Caplinger, Dan. "Give Back to Your Community." The Motley Fool. (March 23, 2010) http://www.fool.com/investing/general/2006/10/23/give-back-to-your-community.aspx
- Cordray, Richard. "Guide for Charity Board Members." Ohio Attorney General. (March 23, 2010)http://www.ohioattorneygeneral.gov/GuideforCharityBoardMembers
- Cox, Mike. "Charity Board Members: Their Obligations." Office of the Attorney General of the State of Michigan. (March 23, 2010)http://www.michigan.gov/ag/0,1607,7-164-17334_18095-44603--,00.html
- Fidelity Private Foundation Services. "Foundation Administration: Choosing Private Foundation Board Members." (March 23, 2010) https://www.fidelityprivatefoundations.com/resources_foundadmin_choosing.html
- Joyce, Amy, "Personal Payoff: Corporate Types Help Themselves by Helping Nonprofits." Washington Post. (March 23, 2010)http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/11/19/AR2006111900788.html
- McNamara, Carter. "Starting a Nonprofit Organization." Free Management Library. (March 23, 2010)http://managementhelp.org/strt_org/strt_np/strt_np.htm
- Minnesota Council of Nonprofits. "How to Start a Nonprofit." (March 23, 2010) http://mncn.org/info_start.htm
- Takagi, Gene. "Are Charity Boards Ready for Tough Times Ahead?" Nonprofit Law Blog. (March 23, 2010)http://www.nonprofitlawblog.com/home/2009/11/are-charity-boards-ready-for-tough-times-ahead.html
- Takagi, Gene. "More on Charity Boards and Tough Times." Nonprofit Law Blog. (March 23, 2010)http://www.nonprofitlawblog.com/home/2009/11/more-on-charity-boards-and-tough-times.html