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What Is the Role of the Board of Directors in a Nonprofit Organization?

The board of directors is the backbone of every nonprofit organization and the key to its success. With a Master of Science in Nonprofit Administration degree, you can develop the skills necessary to serving effectively on the board of any charitable organization.

The “Three Ds”

A nonprofit’s board of directors has three primary legal duties (the “three Ds”). GrantSpace defines them as such:

  • “Duty of care: Board members are expected to actively participate in organizational planning and decision-making and to make sound and informed judgments.”
  • “Duty of loyalty: When acting on behalf of the organization, board members must put the interests of the nonprofit before any personal or professional concerns and avoid potential conflicts of interest.”
  • “Duty of obedience: Board members must ensure that the organization complies with all applicable federal, state, and local laws and regulations, and that it remains committed to its established mission.”

The board of directors’ role also includes a laundry list of other basic responsibilities:

  • Establishing the organization’s mission and purpose. It is up to the board to lay the foundation for the nonprofit, which includes determining its goals, how it will be funded and whom the organization will serve.
  • Hiring, supporting and evaluating the chief executive. Perhaps the most important role of the board of directors is to find an effective leader for their organization.
  • Building a competent board. Members of the board must be equally effective in their positions.
  • Monitoring and strengthening the organization’s programs and services. The board of directors’ role is to also determine which programs support the organization’s mission and to monitor their value.
  • Guaranteeing sufficient funding, protecting assets and providing proper financial oversight. Adequate funding is mandatory, and it is the board’s job to create fundraising opportunities and to put proper financial controls in place.
  • Improving the nonprofit’s public standing. Also a part of the board of directors’ role is publicizing the organization’s goals and accomplishments as well as gaining community support.

An Online MS in Nonprofit Administration

With an online master’s in nonprofit administration, your graduate-level skills can help support any charitable organization, and the program’s online nature means you can earn the degree in as little as a year. The curriculum includes core courses in nonprofit development and management, research methods, nonprofit governance, financial management and human resource management. Flexible scheduling and knowledgeable faculty put the resources and expertise at your disposal that you need to advance a career in the nonprofit sector.

Learn more about the LSUS online MS in Nonprofit Administration program.


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