Boards, Working with

Nonprofit organizations are governed by boards of directors, comprised mainly of members who serve as volunteers. It is that characteristic that is the interest of this subject in the library: applying volunteer management principles to how boards of directors recruit their members, work with the executive of the organization, form committees, and work among themselves. Other organizations specialize in "boardsmanship" and deal with broader topics relating to successful boards (strategic planning, budgeting, policies, etc.); we have provided links to those sites here under the the Web Sites and Blogs tab.

Avoiding the Pitfalls [in Recruiting Board Members], Carol E. Weisman, p. 18-20, F.E. Robbins & Sons, 1998
Be Ambassadors to the Community, Jan Masaoka, All Hands on Board: The Board of Directors in an All-Volunteer Organization, pp. 15-16, National Center for Nonprofit Boards and the Support Center for Nonprofit Management, 1999
Board Chair Responsible?, Don Kramer, Nonprofit Issues
Board Service Burn-Out Quiz and Recovery Plan, Carol Weisman, MSW, CSP Veteran of 32 boards, president of 7, 2011
Board Service by Young People, Jenny Sazama and Karen S. Young, pp.19-20, Youth on Board, 2001
The Board and Staff Need an Alliance, The NonProfit Times, The NonProfit Times, 2017

10 Questions to Consider

Boards of All-Volunteer Organizations, Blue Avocado, Blue Avocado
Boards of Directors: Governing at a Distance?, Susan J. Ellis, Energize Hot Topic, 2007
CEO as Board Chair: The Nonprofit Ethicist Just Doesn’t Like It, NPO Quarterly, 2015

Precise ethical reasoning as to why an executive director should not be a member of a nonprofit board of directors

Consultation/Listening, Debra Allcock Tyler, Directory of Social Change, 2017
Day 6: Find Your Successor, Carol E. Weisman, pp. 33-4, F.E. Robbins & Sons, 1998
Divining a Skills Set, George Weiner, The NonProfit Times, 2008

A Volunteer Management Perspective on Boards of Directors

How Volunteer Action in 2018 Can Focus Us for 2019, Susan J. Ellis, Energize Hot Topic, 2019
The Missing Link: Where are Volunteers at the National Level?, Susan J. Ellis, Energize Hot Topic, 2002
The Need for Institutional Memory, Susan J. Ellis, Energize Hot Topic, 2003
Problem Boards or Board Problems?, William P. Ryan, Richard R. Chait, and Barbara E. Taylor, Nonprofit Quarterly, 2003 - republished 2017

Excellent examination of a nonprofit board's role

Sneaky and Insightful Boardroom Questions, Carol Weisman, Board Builders e-zine, News from the Road, 2010
Why The Board Should Consider Volunteer Issues, Susan J. Ellis, The Nonprofit Board's Role in Maximizing Volunteer Resources, pp. 2-3, National Center for Nonprofit Boards, 1999
Why Young People Should Be Decision Makers, Jenny Sazama and Karen S. Young, pp. 4-6, Youth on Board, 2001
Jan Masaoka, originally published by the National Center for Nonprofit Boards , 2012, pp. 19

Report from BoardSource  on its survey of more than 1700 board chairs and executives of nonprofit organizations sharing data and insights about their boards’ composition, practices, performance, and culture. Of special interest for its data on lack of diversity. See a review of the study published in Nonprofit Quarterly on 9/6/17.

, 2017, pp. 64

Developed by CNIB, this manual highlights best practices for partnering with leadership volunteers, particular board and committee members, senior advisors, and project leaders.  Accompanied by a Toolkit.

, 2017

A Guide for Charities and Foundations. Published by the Independent Sector on work done by The Panel on the Nonprofit Sector.

, 2007, pp. 32

A research study by the Alliance for Nonprofit Management's Governance Affinity Group  surveying 635 nonprofit board chairs across the United States. The study asked: How do individuals (volunteers, of course) prepare for their role as chair of a nonprofit board? and, what do board chairs perceive their leadership roles to be in relationship to the board, the community, and the CEO? The answers are quite revealing.

, 2016, pp. 30
Adler & Colvin (formerly Silk, Alder & Colvin)

The "resources" area of this law firm's Web site offers a number of excellent articles on legal issues for nonprofit boards of directors.

All about Boards of Directors

Comprehensive site compiled by Carter McNamara, with many articles and links on specific board-related topics.

Board Cafe

Archive of past issues of this monthly e-newsletter for board members from CompassPoint Nonprofit Services.


A site "revolutionizing the way nonprofit boards and new leaders find each other." Nonprofits can post their board member vacancies and individuals interested in board service can browse what might suit their interests.


Major American source for information about nonprofit boards of directors. Especially see their "Essential Questions" about board membership, the rest of theirQ&A topics, and their 107-page compilation (PDF),A Guide to the Literature on Governance: An Annotated Bibliography.

Career Volunteer

Career Volunteer is "here to make it easier for you to search and recruit trustees, skilled volunteers, potential mentors, and Board Members for your charity, NGO or social enterprise...By skilled volunteers we mean people who can provide pro bono assistance in specialist areas - marketing, finance, fundraising, strategy or people with technical abilities in other professions." Career Volunteer gives you access to fully funded expertise and Board-level skills from outside the sector, provided on a pro bono basis -- candidates are drawn from large corporates participating and funding the programme.  Also have an interesting blog, "Volunteers do it for free" at


Corestrategies on Nonprofits Blog

Written by four nonprofit consultants led by Terrie Temkin, this blog frequently offers volunteer-related posts.

Donor Dream Blog (Category: Volunteers)

Erik Anderson writes this blog about donor relations and one of his categories is volunteers -- specifically how to work with nonprofit boards of directors.  This link takes you to the compilation of posts archived under "volunteer," but you can also view posts on fundraising and other topics.

InnoVate Blog

From JFFixler Group, consultants in volunteer engagement and board developement

Lori Gotlieb Consulting Blog

Blog postings by Lori Gotlieb, who teaches volunteer management at Humber  College, Toronto, ON. 

Nonprofit Issues

Nonprofit Issues® is a national Web newsletter of "Nonprofit Law You Need To Know." Written for nonprofit executives and their advisors, lawyer Donald Kramer provides clear, concise and comprehensive coverage of real issues that affect nonprofits every day. While there is a fee for subscribing to the full publication or participating in webinars, sign up for the free weekly e-mailed "Question and Answer" where Don Kramer responds to readers' questions on topics of general interest, often volunteer-related.

PTO Today

Wonderful publication and online resource for parent-teacher organizations -- but with all sorts of useful nuggets for ANY all-volunteer organization.

Social Velocity (blog)

Focused on helping nonprofits create a growth or strategic plan, determine how to bring more money in the door, and get their boards engaged and invested.


Part of Reach...Skilled Volunteers in the UK, this site helps both organizations and board members work more effectively.

Working with Committeesarea of University of Illinois Extension Web Site

This website containsfact sheets,role descriptions,worksheets, andadditional resourcesto assist volunteers and 4-H members in developing effective committees within their club -- but applicable elsewhere.

Print and e-Books in Our Store

From the Top Down UK edition book cover

UK Edition of the best-selling book that identifies the critical link between the actions of an organisation’s senior management and the overall success of volunteer engagement.

Book cover

A how-to guide to fulfilling the role of board treasurer, written in simple, clear language for the non-accountant.

"Fun weekly videos to help nonprofits raise money, steward donors, and inspire board members," produced by Chris Davenport with a range of guest presenters.  A new, short video (usually less than 5 minutes) comes out every Monday and you get the link via e-mail. 

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