Q:

What is the structure of a non profit board of directors?

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Quick Answer

A typical non-profit board of directors has a small number of members, some of whom are employees of the non-profit and some of who are not. This mixture of "inside" and "outside" members ensures that the non-profit's management benefits from a wide variety of viewpoints, experiences and knowledge.

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Full Answer

Boards can have any number of members, but in practice, most boards have between three and 30 members to ensure decisions can be made quickly, while not allowing too few people control over the entire organization. Boards are usually structured to have an odd number of members to avoid ties or other voting deadlocks.

Most non-profit boards have a chairman of the board who sets priorities and holds the ultimate responsibility for the board's decisions. As in corporate boards, this chairman is often the chief executive of the non-profit.

In addition to the chairman, there are typically several inside directors, generally made up of other high-ranking leaders from within the non-profit. These inside directors are joined by outside directors and individuals who have leadership positions at other non profits (or, less commonly, high-profile celebrities who are associated with the non profit's cause). Together, these directors help make decisions and guide the non-profit as the board of directors.

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