Ineffective Board Members in a Nonprofit Organization

putting the puzzle together

May 12

The individuals that choose to serve on boards do so because they want to contribute their expertise, collaborate with peers, and give back to the community. Many nonprofit organizations come across a select few that are not effectively engaged, have a lack of experience and ultimately become an ineffective board member. (

According to the, consider the following barriers:

  1. Ineffective board member not clear on expectations.
  2. Ineffective board members are not comfortable with an assignment given, failing to speak up.
  3. Ineffective board members may have served for too long. They have lost commitment.
  4. Ineffective board members are not in the right role. They may really want to be a volunteer.

The average person joining the board of a nonprofit organization typically has little knowledge or understanding of what is expected of them once they join that board. Typically there is a substantial amount of confusion and uncertainty with fundamental roles and responsibilities. The nonprofit sector needs to start preparing people and give them the necessary time needed to explain the structure of the organization and the way it is intended to work. The founder or director needs to address all the organizational decisions. Ineffective board members can hurt boards substantially; take a look at some major examples that lead up to ineffective board members.

More Barriers in a Nonprofit.

1. Confusion and uncertainty with fundamental roles and responsibilities.

2. The founder/director may be young he/she may want to attract like-minded people.

3. The founder/director may be older he/she may want to attract like-minded people.

4. Your cause may be too specific.

5. The young board does not get along with older people or visa versa.


Fixing Barriers in Nonprofit Organizations

1. First step of any organizational problem is to admit the problem.

2. Seek advice from an experienced non-profit. For example United Way, Goodwill, and the Community Foundation have good resources that will help, since they already function to there full potential.

3. Reach out to organizations with like-minded goals; there is strength in numbers.

4. Find people that have experience in the local community that have run non-profits before. Invite them to do a workshop for your board members. Have everything in order: show them the problem, make sure to outline your ideas on how to fix the problem, and then ask for help.

5. Continuously renew the link between what your organization does and the needs and interests of the community you serve.

6. Prepare your board and clear all uncertainty and confusion with the fundamental roles and responsibilities prepared ahead of time.

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