A nonprofit board is a group of people that helps to govern and make decisions for a nonprofit. Your nonprofit board exists to make sure that your organization fulfills its mission and does so in a fair and legal way. Most nonprofit board member positions are voluntary and board members serve terms anywhere from 1-year all the way up to 3-years.
Some nonprofit executive leaders struggle with keeping boards engaged and accountable, but this doesn't have to be as difficult as it is for many people.
You wouldn't take a job without a clear job description. The same should go for a nonprofit board member role. Many of the clients that I work with don't have role descriptions for their board members and it shows. They have so many complaints about the lack of engagement and results from their board members, but it's often times because board members don't have clarity of what's expected of them. Role descriptions help nonprofit leaders and board members to plan activities and tasks as well measure success and outcomes for each individual.
Bylaws give a board a governing document that establishes a framework or structure in which the board carries out its functions and operations. It outlines things like how often board member meet, how they vote and make decisions, how they communicate about certain things, and what happens when board members aren't attending meetings or completing tasks. Nonprofit boards should make sure that every member is familiar with the organizational bylaws. They should also make sure that they update and revisit these bylaws often. Bylaws should outline expectations and accountability for board members. When you have a shared document and a group of expectations that everyone understands and agrees to, it makes it a lot easier for people to abide by the rules and know exactly what is expected of them.
If you prioritize and implement these two things, you will find that your board members have a better investment in their position and a greater motivation to show up and make the best choices for your organization.