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Knowing Your Nonprofit: Roles and Responsibilities of the Board Chair

The Chair of a Nonprofit organization plays a vital role in the management and continuous success of a nonprofit organization. The Chain of command of a nonprofit relies not only on its members but also on a transparent chain of command that leads to longevity and the nonprofit fulfilling its main objectives. This article seeks to highlight the essential roles and responsibilities of the board chair.


Management is a critical function in any establishment, and a nonprofit is no different. While a CEO is fundamentally responsible for operational management, the Chair of the board's core purpose is ensuring the organization reaches its goals by keeping the organization on track as a whole, executing board meetings, and being a beacon of excellent leadership.


The Board Chair is also cardinally responsible for overseeing the administrative aspect of the nonprofit organization. While the CEO manages the daily financial transactions, the board chair is expected to ensure the organization is fully compliant in all areas and that the nonprofit's finances are all above board. They also assume legal responsibility regarding the organization's financial holdings, including but not limited to gifts and donations.


Another core function of the board chair is welcoming and onboarding new members of the organization. The Chair also spearheads constant fundraisers to attract new members and ensures all members know the rules, regulations, and bylaws that govern the organization. The Chair also mediates and solves any dispute among members.


While a CEO or Executive Director has an infinite time frame in their position, given no issues arise, a Board Chair does not have this luxury. The Chair's position has a time frame that spans from one to four years. Due to their limited tenure in office, the Chair must utilize this time wisely by providing constructive guidance and ensuring the organization’s goals are accomplished.


Good governance can be achieved by transparency and accountability. The board chair is responsible for diligently evaluating fellow board members and other executive members to ensure that everyone has the necessary resources to complete their given tasks. These evaluations also allow managing members to update the Chair of any hindrances or issues they are having.


Given the time frame associated with the position, the board chair must take the time to identify and train possible members for succession. The Chair should constantly create learning tools and opportunities to ensure that whoever assumes the position will be fully mentored and equipped to transition into successful leadership.

The board chair captains the organization as it moves towards the achievement of its goals. In light of the many responsibilities mentioned above, a board must implement a thorough process for selecting a board chair. It is important to have the right person at the helm of the organization. Failure to be diligent in selecting an appropriate board chair can result in the demise of a nonprofit organization.

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