Greater Cheyenne Chamber of Commerce Business Journal and Other Publications Q1 2016 Business Journal - Page 40

Navigating the Waters of Non-Profit Boards Mandy Fabel There are thousands of non-profits in Wyoming and each one is legally required to have a volunteer Board of Directors. That means Does Your Board Experience Span Multiple Decades? that if you live somewhere for longer than six months and you have First, thank you for your service to non-profits in your a pulse, you will likely be asked to join a non-profit board at some community. We know it is not always an easy job and we point. If you own or operate a business, you’re even more likely to appreciate your involvement. Second, have ever been be a candidate because the Board might be hoping to get a few confused about the work the board is actually supposed goods or services out of you. Sound familiar? to be doing? On one board you are focused on creating New to Non-Profit Boards? policy and strategy and on another board you find yourself making or advising on operational decisions. Well, Before you dive into the role of Board Member, it is important to you’re not alone in noticing this large variance, and we’ll understand the legal obligations, expectations, and best practices explain why on the next page. for serving on a Board. Take our quiz below and see how the non-profit in question stalks up. What is your non-profit status? There are multiple types of non-profits and each has a different set of legal ramifications. The most common are 501(c)(3) charitable organizations, but there are also 501(c)(4) and 501(c)(6) entities. In Wyoming there are also organizations who never received or failed to maintain a non-profit status. All can be effective, it is just important to understand the type of legal entity you might be governing. 40 | Quarter 1 M 2016 What are the expectations of the Board members? Notice this question does not say, “How often do you meet?” There are many commitments to serving on a non-profit Board outside of the meetings. Some Boards require a monetary donation each year while others ask their board members to contribute hundreds of hours of time to events and programs. It is also appropriate to ask if there are Board term lengths and limits. Too often people join a Board and do not have an option to leave the Board until they move or die…seriously. What are the biggest challenges and decisions facing this Board? Board meetings have a bell curve similar to the one for family holiday dinners—sometimes they can be perfectly charming and other times they can include yelling matches and mashed potatoes