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A nonprofit president’s job can be a time-consuming, hands-on role or require just a few hours per month of meetings or paperwork. Depending on the size, type and mission of the organization, nonprofits require presidents to perform a wide variety of tasks, with or without staff support. Understanding what might be expected of you in a president’s role will help you prepare for this position, which can improve your professional stature.
Board of Directors
The board of directors of a nonprofit has the power to make all strategic decisions for the organization, even if board members serve temporary terms and a long-time executive director manages the business affairs of the organization. Boards steer nonprofit organizations, which means they must ensure that its activities fulfill its mission, its finances are handled responsibly and the organization meets all of its legal obligations. Like for-profit executive managers, nonprofit board members set the strategic direction of their organizations.
Some nonprofits call the top board member, known as the chairman of the board, a president. This is a more well-known title to laypeople and often goes to an executive who is in the public eye, as opposed to one who works behind the scenes. Many nonprofits give the person who holds this position both titles.
Internal Job Duties
A board president works with the board and any paid manager to set and run meetings, make board and committee appointments and assign workloads to board members. A board president only has one vote on a board, but might have other powers, based on the organization’s bylaws. For example, the president might be allowed to appoint committee chairs, choose the site of the annual board retreat or appoint temporary board seats if a board members dies, resigns or is terminated. During meetings, the president calls the meeting to order, takes roll and moves the agenda along. The president can also call meetings of the executive committee, which is a body of key board members who can conduct business on behalf of the board when it is not in session. If the nonprofit has no paid staff, the president might perform the duties of a chief executive officer, overseeing marketing, finance and fundraising committee chairs or contractors.
External Job Duties
A nonprofit board president is often the face of the organization. Like a president of a for-profit company, who might not be a board member, a nonprofit board president makes speeches, attends public events, writes newsletter and magazine articles and conducts interviews with the media. The president might testify before a legislative body on matters that are relevant to a charity or trade association. After his term ends, a president becomes a past president and might continue to represent the organization when called upon by the board.
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Can a Paid Executive Director Serve on the Board of Directors of a Nonprofit?→
What Are the Duties of a Non-Profit President?→
Sam Ashe-Edmunds has been writing and lecturing for decades. He has worked in the corporate and nonprofit arenas as a C-Suite executive, serving on several nonprofit boards. He is an internationally traveled sport science writer and lecturer. He has been published in print publications such as Entrepreneur, Tennis, SI for Kids, Chicago Tribune, Sacramento Bee, and on websites such Smart-Healthy-Living.net, SmartyCents and Youthletic. Edmunds has a bachelor's degree in journalism.