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Selecting the Board of Directors

How to

Select your Board of Directors


A non-profit organization might have a few volunteers, or it might have hundreds. No matter the size, a successful organization needs a strong board of directors that can steer the ship with a steady and expert hand. By carefully selecting your directors and setting clear expectations, you’ll find you’ve fought half the battle.

Choose your directors wisely


While it may seem like a good idea to have your friends and family sit on your board of directors, it may not be an option, and in any case, it may not be the best way to reach your goals. Remember that your organization exists to help your community and the rules governing the structure of the board are in place to ensure that all registered non-profit organizations are working toward that goal.

The specific type of organization can also dictate who may or may not be a director based on their familial or business relation with other directors. The Income Tax Act currently recognizes three types of charity: the charitable organization, the public foundation and the private foundation.

In a private foundation, 50% or more of the directors may be related persons. In a public foundation or charitable organization, less than 50% of the directors may be related persons.

Another good idea is to consider having both an accountant and attorney on the board of directors. These sorts of professionals have specific knowledge that can be critical to your organization. Keep in mind, however, that while the advice and insight gained may be extremely helpful, conflicts of interest may prevent them from representing your organization in an official capacity.

Set direction and expectations


To allow your directors to run the organization effectively, they'll need to know what is expected of them. Without some sort of job description, directors will not be able to focus their efforts-and the efforts of others-toward specific goals.

In determining what you need from directors, it's a good idea to make a list of required skills and a list of current board members. By cross-referencing the lists, you can not only assign specific duties to existing board members, but also determine what gaps need to be filled.

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