This week I’ve been working on a few assessments (aka Nonprofit Strategy Jumpstarts) with 3 nonprofit boards starting strategic planning.  This post features 4 resources for nonprofit board members to help ensure they are fulfilling their fiduciary, legal, and ethical responsibilities. These will come in handy if you’re currently serving on or staffing a nonprofit board.  Included are a mix of Michigan-specific tools as well as some national resources.

Staying legal for nonprofitsStaying Legal in Michigan.  This is a website provided by the Michigan Nonprofit Association.  It includes clickable information in areas like these and many others:

  1. Incorporating
  3. Soliciting Contributions (Registration)
  4. Professional Fundraisers
  5. Special Events
  6. Meetings
  7. Volunteers

. . . .and many more according to state and federal requirements. To access the full list click here.

Ethics for nonprofit fundraisingAssociation of Fundraising Professionals Code of Ethical Standards.  Board members are responsible for ensuring that their organizations have the financial resources they need to fulfill their missions. This should include an annual charitable gift from each board member so that the organization has 100% of board members contributing financially.  This may also include helping to raise funds from external sources by making personal introductions, communicating with donors, and asking for their support.  Anyone who is engaging in fundraising and solicitation should be familiar with the Association of Fundraising Professionals Code of Ethical Standards.

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) also has good resources for nonprofits board members on their website.  This page on the IRS website includes information on how a nonprofit can remain tax exempt.   There is also good information on what constitutes political activities and legislative activities (known as lobbying).  This stuff is important to know–especially in an election year!

Resources for nonprofit board members, checklistBoard Source also has a great publication called Ten Basic responsibilities of Nonprofit Boards by Richard Ingram. Here is a link from Bridgespan’s site listing the 10 responsibilities. Click here to order printed copies for current and new board members as part of your orientation and onboarding process.

I hope you find these tools helpful.  I’d love to hear some of your favorite resources for nonprofit board members, so feel free to email me directly at!

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Stephanie Blackburn Freeth is the creator of The Strategy Tango.


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