Director’s Corner: Why Governance Matters – Why Nonprofit Boards are Critical to Nonprofit Success
Sometimes people ask – why do nonprofits need a Board and what do they do? The easy answer is because it is legally required (Minnesota Statute 317A.203 requires that every 501(c)(3) have at least three board members.)
More importantly, nonprofits need them and a common characteristic you will find behind every strong nonprofit, is that they have a strong and engaged Board of Directors.
At the Bridge, we have a Board of 18 members and who act together as a Governance Board meaning they focus their skills and talents not on getting in the weeds of day-to-day activities but instead on the overall health of our organization. They play a critical role monitoring our strategic direction and performance against our goals.
More than these lofty and somewhat vague terms is the bottom line – the Board is the final point of authority for a nonprofit and the check and balance on everything we do. The Board monitors finances, compliance, and performance against established goals and perhaps most importantly, they hire and supervise the Executive Director.
Our current board chair, Scott Thomas-Forss, joined the board in 2012. He felt drawn to The Bridge after serving as an intern here during college, and wanted to help us thrive.
As a board member, he’s able to do that by asking difficult questions and sharing his professional knowledge.
“Getting a diverse board is a great way to supplement the staff’s knowledge,” he said. “They bring expertise to the agency, and offer financial, legal, marketing, and HR advice.”
The Board guides our work, checks our work and protects our organization, as stewards, ambassadors and agents. They play a huge role in fundraising – both with their own dollars and by spreading the word about the organization. Executive Directors work hard but at the end of the day, the success or failure of a nonprofit rises and falls with its Board of Directors.