Resources

Boards on Board: Managing Governance Risk

Volunteer boards are vital partners at all nonprofit organizations. An important aspect of any board’s role is to safeguard the mission and assets of the organization. Join Melanie Lockwood Herman, executive director at the Nonprofit Risk Management Center, as she shares strategies to help streamline risk management and compliance at the board level. Watch this … Continued

Going Up? Elevator Talk, Risk Management and the Nonprofit Board

By Melanie Lockwood Herman The Board of Directors sits atop the organizational chart of a nonprofit organization. Board issues are either self-initiated or are “elevated” by staff for board consideration. Both approaches are inherently necessary to the board’s governance role. And while there are myriad definitions, governance is essentially the “means in which the leading … Continued

FAQs

We want to expand our mission to add various activities — how can we do that and still maintain our tax-exempt status?

By asking this question you have passed the first test of becoming a great risk manager! You are asking whether what you want to do is within the mission. In some cases the mission statement may be broadly worded and no changes will be necessary. Often, however, the existing mission statement is too narrow. Your … Continued

How can we involve the board in risk management?

Board members are often described as being in the crows nest, looking out on the horizon, while the staff leaders are at the ship’s wheel steering it through the sometimes choppy waters, in the right direction. The job in the crow’s nest is to call the crew’s attention to storms brewing on the horizon. Find … Continued

How can I convince my board that they should be involved in fundraising?

If your board doesn’t take its responsibility to fund raise seriously, then your organization is at risk. A board has a legal duty of “due care” that involves ensuring that there are enough resources for the organization now, and in the future. If you can’t get your board to accept the old adage, “give, get … Continued

Do board meetings have to be open to the public?

In some states there are laws known as “Sunshine laws” that require groups to open their meetings to the public, however, these laws generally only apply to governmental or quasi-governmental groups. Unless the nonprofit is a governmental entity, there is no obligation to open board meetings to the public. (“Governmental entities” would include school boards, … Continued

Our board members have served for a long time. What’s the risk?

There are legal risks in failing to re-elect board members when their term has expired. State laws restrict the terms of board service by requiring that nonprofits hold elections, generally annually, or as designated in the organization’s bylaws. State law usually permits board members to be re-elected after their term has expired, however, each nonprofit needs … Continued