Advisory Board vs. Board of Directors

From volunteers to the Board of Directors, your entire organization works together so that your nonprofit can retain stability while impacting your community. So you have boots on the ground and people volunteering their three t’s. In addition, you have a table full of individuals contributing to the organization’s overall health called your Board of Directors. Many well-run organizations also rely heavily on their advisory board. If you are an emerging nonprofit or want to add on this crucial component, follow the steps below to ensure successful onboarding.

The Basics

You surely caught our earlier blog, “The Who, What, and How to Onboarding your Board of Directors,” so you are well-versed in rolling out the red carpet for your new board members, but what about your advisory board? Are the roles similar? Are the responsibilities different? How do I select an advisory member and form a committee? Nonprofit organizations are legally required to have a Board of Directors but not an advisory board, although the bylaws may mandate one.

How Is an Advisory Board Different From a Board of Directors?

An Advisory Board is a group of people with a specific skill set to support the board of directors. Your advisory board has no governing authority, unlike your board of directors. However, your board of directors has many responsibilities, and without support, they will have a hard time fulfilling all the requirements of their position. This is where your advisory board would come in; they could offer fundraising, event, or even programmatic support. Your advisory board should understand their responsibilities and the organization’s goals; since they are often the individuals who are the hands, feet, and voice of the nonprofit.

How to Create the A-Team of Advisory Board Members

You’ve got the background, and now it’s time to assemble. When recruiting your Advisory Board, keep in mind the following:

  • Be transparent about the role. Share with the potential Advisory Board member that they will be a contributing member, but not a voting one. Clearly outline the role description and provide measurable goals.
  • Recruit members across industries. Consider where your nonprofit needs the most help and start from there. For example, if you are a nonprofit working closely with families raising school-age children, it would be great to bring on educators. It also never hurts to have an attorney or two sitting on your Advisory Board, as they can help and share advice on any legal issues that arise.
  • While the Board of Directors has voting power on financial decisions, the Advisory Board doesn’t. Members of the advisory board are welcome to make suggestions and requests on behalf of the organization. They will provide data and reports to support pending proposals, so the board can make educated and informed decisions.
  • Be sure to recruit individuals who are passionate about and align with the mission of your agency. There is nothing worse than onboarding someone who does not believe in the purpose of your nonprofit.

When evaluating your nonprofit’s future Advisory Board (and other organizational insurance logistics), consider SOGO Insurance to be the experts. We are ready to guide you through any insurance-related decisions that will keep your organization protected and thriving.