CEO Insights: What Decisions Should Your Nonprofit's Board Make?

January 30, 2020
3 min
A grid of shapes, a portrait photo of Justin Wheeler, and the words "CEO Chat".
Justin is Funraise's CEO, a co-founder, and a bad-ass, experienced nonprofit fundraiser. Like a true fundraiser-turned-founder, he breaks down the concepts behind Funraise's mission everywhere he can make nonprofits' voices heard.

Speaking from experience, nonprofit boards can make or break it for your organization.

Boards who are not given direction and vision typically are the ones operating in the weeds, which causes decision-making paralysis at the executive level. I see this All. The. Time.

As the CEO, make sure you're leading the board and they aren't leading you. If you can't tie impact and growth back to the board, it might be time to find a new one.

Can't listen to the video? Scroll down to read the transcript.

Video Transcript
One thing I'd like to discuss is just kind of the types of decisions board members should be making, and I think oftentimes, you know, CEOs or Executives can be somewhat timid when it comes to the board. And we've  heard often when we're selling our software to nonprofits, we hear them often saying that they have to get board approval to basically subscribe to our software, which isn't that expensive. And so I can understand if it's a  big expense. Typically, those are in your bylaws, an expense over $25,000 or whatever, you know, requires board approval outside of normal budgets. But I've seen a lot of this over the years of just really small decisions being made by board members or being deferred by Executives to board members. I don't know if you had any thought on that, if that was a good thing, if you felt like that was a bad thing or you know how you would respond? Well, number one, that is ridiculous. If somebody needs to get board approval for a $200 software purchase, that is completely unnecessary and just totally out of bounds. I mean, first and foremost, if your board is that far into the weeds on your expenses or your event logistics or your hiring and firing of, you know, interns or temporary employees, then you're doing it wrong. That is unacceptable. And that is not the way to run a board. The CEO or an Executive Director needs organization. They are not subservient to their board members. They are a peer to their board members. They are the executive at their organization and they are the ones that are really driving and creating change. And their board is there to help them and lift them up. But in high-level strategic decisions, not these low level, in the weeds, type of decisions.
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