The legislative body of a State or county, or the board of directors of a private agency, provides a framework that enables an agency to serve children and families effectively. Typically, the private agency board defines the purpose, goals, and scope of the agency program and services, approves agency policies within which staff work, establishes and maintains a sound financial structure and assures financial support, builds community understanding and support of services provided, and determines if the agency has fulfilled its purpose and responsibilities. The following resources describe the structure and responsibilities of nonprofit boards in social service organizations, ways to increase the effectiveness of boards, and best practices for board development and functioning.
All About Boards of Directors (For-Profit and Non-Profit)
Free Management Library
Provides information on the inner workings of a board's creation, roles and responsibilities, operations, staffing, and other topics relevant to a board and its members.
Seeks to increase the effectiveness of nonprofit organizations by strengthening their boards of directors.
Council on Accreditation
Outlines best practice standards for governance of private human services organizations, including those related to governing body and community representation, mission, community involvement and advocacy, organization of the governing body, governance responsibilities, oversight of investments, and the role of the executive director.
The Impact of Diversity: Understanding How Nonprofit Board Diversity Affects Philanthropy, Leadership, and Board Engagement (PDF - 747 KB)
Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy, Johnson Grossnickle and Associates, & BoardSource (2018)
Discusses how diversity on nonprofit boards affects board engagement and impact, including which organizational attributes correlate with board diversity and how board diversity is related to organizational action.
Leadership and Governance in Times of Crisis: A Balancing Act for Nonprofit Boards
McMullin & Raggo (2020)
Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly, 49(6)
Examines how the COVID-19 pandemic has affected the roles of nonprofit boards and presents a model of board leadership to help organizations manage during times of crisis.
Leadership & Governance Resources
Minnesota Council of Nonprofits
Provides resources on boards, leadership, and governance, including information on board composition and structure, defining roles and responsibilities, recruiting board members, and more.
The Four Principles of Purpose-Driven Board Leadership
Stanford Social Innovation Review
Describes how board composition should shift to support an organization's most critical work and offers four principles: purpose before organization, respect for an organization’s ecosystem, equity mindset, and authorized voice and power.
How Can I Find Board Members for My Nonprofit?
Provides tips on how to build an effective board of directors.
Making Board Leadership Development and Succession a Priority
Starboard Leadership Consulting, LLC
Presents strategies for developing a successful board leadership and development culture, including making board development an organizational priority, creating a charge, holding board members accountable, ensuring the work is ongoing, instituting term limits, staggering board teams, and managing board transitions.
No Room for Failure: Investigating Board Leadership in Nonprofit Executive Transitions
Stewart, Adams, McMillian, & Burns (2021)
Nonprofit Management and Leadership, 31
Offers information on how nonprofit boards can handle leadership transitions, including what boards can prioritize for executive recruits, the reasons for the approaches they take, and the outcomes of the transition.
Selecting and Developing Board Leadership: Choose Your Leaders Wisely
Reviews the problem of unintentional leadership selection on nonprofit boards and lists ways to strengthen succession planning and the board member selection process to develop successful leadership.