From nonprofit expert Ellie Hume–the critical responsibilities of nonprofit boards. Part one of two. Discover the five key areas that boards must diligently monitor: mission statement clarity, robust governance, financial oversight, active involvement in fundraising, and strict management of conflicts of interest. Learn why continuous education and open dialogue are vital for board members to effectively uphold their duties and ensure organizational success.

In the latest episode of “The Nonprofit Show,” Ellie Hume from YPTC gives a look into the vital aspects that nonprofit boards must consistently monitor. The discussion, hosted by Julia Patrick, highlights the importance of continual engagement and education for board members, especially in understanding their roles and responsibilities. Ellie begins by explaining that board members often don’t realize the depth of their responsibilities and the importance of not taking their roles for granted. . . .saying, “You have to assume [board members] really don’t know, and they’re afraid to ask questions.”

A key point Ellie makes is the importance of board members being fully aware and articulate about the organization’s mission statement, suggesting that every board meeting should start with the mission statement being read and discussed, to reinforce its importance and ensure all members are aligned with the mission.

Governance was another significant topic. Ellie points out how boards must not only understand their legal responsibilities but actively ensure the nonprofit adheres to its mission and governance standards. This involves regular reviews and updates, as she directs that governance is not a one-time discussion but an ongoing dialogue.

Financial oversight is critical, as Ellie highlights a common issue: board members often lack the financial literacy required to effectively review and question the financial statements presented to them. This gap can lead to oversight failures. There is a need for the nonprofit’s finance professionals to present information in an accessible, understandable manner, and not ignore the likely need for financial education for board members.

Fundraising and philanthropy are also areas where board members should be more actively involved, not leaving the responsibility solely to the organization’s staff. Ellie offers that board members should contribute to funding, reflecting on their duty to ensure the organization is well-resourced.

Lastly, speaks about how the management of conflicts of interest (COI) is vital, stating that board members must disclose any potential conflicts not just annually but as they arise. She emphasized the importance of transparency and the necessity for members to recuse themselves from decisions where a conflict exists.