Standards for Excellence – Leadership: Board

May 27, 2015

By Issela Sono, Nonprofit Management and Governance Intern, Standards for Excellence Institute®

Issela has volunteered with various nonprofit organizations in the Maryland and Washington, DC area while pursuing her undergraduate studies in Global Business and Public Policy. Issela is certified in Nonprofit Management from Duke University and is currently pursuing a M.B.A., with a concentration in Public Management, at Hood College.

Read the original blog here.

Standards for Excellence® Pass to Excellence is coming to Southern Maryland! Join them August 4th at the The Promise Resource Center in Charlotte Hall, St. Mary’s County. Learn more… 


The success of every nonprofit organization is a reflection of the cohesiveness and effectiveness of a well-managed body of employees, executive director and a well functioning board of directors. The board has a wide array of responsibilities, ranging from appointing the executive director to approving policies and procedures vital to the organization’s sustainability.

Part of the 2.0 version of the Standards for Excellence® code focuses on the role that the board of directors plays in nonprofits. In fact, the section of the Standards for Excellence code pertaining to leadership of the board states:


“Board members are in a position of trust to ensure that resources are used to carry out the mission of the organization… An effective nonprofit board should determine the mission of the organization, establish management policies…assure that adequate human and financial resources are available, and actively monitor the organization’s allocation of resources to effectively and efficiently fulfill its mission.”


This section of the code has been divided into three subcategories: Board Responsibilities; Board and Executive Partnership; and Board Member Composition and Independence. Each of these includes its own set of best practice benchmarks that nonprofit boards can strive to implement. To help support nonprofits in their efforts to reach for excellence, the Standards for Excellence Institute has developed a set of comprehensive educational resource packets covering the following topics:


Board Member Responsibilities


  • Board member development, orientation and training
  • Board’s governance and fiduciary responsibility; evaluation of its own performance; its legal responsibilities; attendance, minutes, strategic meeting agendas; bylaws and policies
  • Featured attachments include: Sample Bylaws, Board Evaluation, Job Description, Board Orientation Checklist, Board Member Handbook, Board Meeting Minutes, and Board Committees



Board and Executive Partnership


  • Defining roles of the board and the chief executive; sorting out board and staff roles and responsibilities; understanding the line between management and governance, among other relevant subjects
  • Featured attachments include: Leadership Roles in Management and Governance Diagram, Board Calendar Board Room Quick Tip



Board Member Composition and Independence


  • Commitment to the mission of the organization;
  • Board member recruitment and selection; Board Development,
  • Nominating, or Governance Committee;
  • Diversity;
  • Term limits;
  • Compensation, size and board independence
  • Featured attachments include:  Board Development Committee, Board Composition Analysis, Statements on Board Diversity, Family and Business Relationships and Interested Person Independence Questionnaire


As is the case with all of Standards for Excellence’s updated educational resource packets, the documents include sample policies, procedures, and other materials that will guide your organization through the process of developing and implementing essential policies for your nonprofit.

The new educational resource packets are available, free of charge to all Maryland Nonprofits members and can be accessed here. Be sure to login with your username and password to access the documents!

If you are not a member yet, join now to have full access to these educational materials and much more!


Join us for Optimizing Nonprofit Technology, two intensive workshop sessions to help your organization build a solid tech foundation to facilitate your mission. Attend July 8th for Building a Solid Foundation and/or September 8th for Tech to Tell Your Story.
Learn more…