You joined a nonprofit board because you care about the organization’s mission. You want your contributions as a board member to positively affect the issues addressed by the organization. As a board, you want your nonprofit to thrive and make a difference in the communities served by your organization. Whether your nonprofit is just starting or is long established, getting your board in gear can help put your organization on a clear path forward.

Organizations have lifecycles or stages of development, like any living thing, so start from where your nonprofit is now. Your nonprofit may be newly created, experiencing growth, reaching a plateau, or nearing an end. Your board’s work and focus areas will change depending on where your nonprofit is in its lifecycle and what is happening around the organization. Also, whether your organization has staff or is an all-volunteer endeavor heavily influences the board’s role and scope.

Boards guide nonprofits towards mission achievement through a complex landscape of regulations, funding opportunities and challenges, other organizations, and many more considerations. To navigate the nonprofit landscape effectively, boards need to ask questions as organizational stewards, strategists, and sense-makers. Through oversight and technical work, board members steward the organization and ensure compliance with legal obligations. With foresight in mind, board members serve as strategists for planning and development. As sense-makers, board members consider the nonprofit within a bigger cause and explore what will best move the organization forward over time as communities and the world change.

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