Nonprofit Executive (Executive Director or Chief Executive)

When you’re the executive director or CEO of a nonprofit, a lot depends on you.

Executives must implement a cohesive and thoughtful organizational strategy, be your organization’s public image, inspire and motivate engagement with donors, effectively lead your staff, and have a solid financial management understanding. The list goes on…

That’s a lot to ask of any one individual. And it’s just one of the reasons why your partnership with your board is so critical.

Boards — and the individuals that compose them — provide a powerful opportunity to access skill sets and expertise that greatly expand an organization’s networks, expertise, and reputational capital at the highest level of leadership. But to truly leverage those talents, a board needs to understand its role and respect and value the partnership and leadership of the executive.

You — as the executive — have a critical role to play in making that partnership work. But you don’t have to do it alone. BoardSource is here to help. The following are some critical resources to support you in your role as chief architect of your partnership with your board. You’ll find many more in the Topics and Resources and Solutions areas of this website as well as in our Store.

Resources for Chief Executives

The Nonprofit Chief Executive’s Ten Basic Responsibilities

This publication discusses all of the CEO’s responsibilities, including supervising staff, overseeing operations, and supporting the board. The ten responsibilities serve as benchmarks and guideposts for those executives who want to explore specific aspects of their responsibilities in greater depth.


Reimagining Boards for High Impact

101| Community resource. What if leaders could grow their impact without growing their organizations? Read six primary areas where boards can focus their energy to strengthen community relationships and dramatically increase their impact.

Eight Ways to Increase Your Board's Ability to Work as a Team

301| Community resource. Board work is, fundamentally, a collective effort, and it requires a unique kind of teamwork among members. This resource presents eight tactics you can utilize to increase your board’s ability to collaborate and work as a team.

Six Characteristics of Effective Boards

301| Member-only resource. After interviewing several hundred boards and chief executives and surveying over 1,000 more, researchers Thomas Holland, Barbara Taylor, and Richard Chait discovered six specific characteristics and behaviors that distinguish strong boards from weak boards

Five Leadership Transition Types

101| Community resource. When an organization faces a chief executive transition, the first step the board must take is to identify what type of transition the organization is facing.

Every Board’s Must-Have Documents

101| Community resource. Even the most organized, responsible, and amiable board needs to document its activities, internal rules, and processes. Here are the various documents to which your board needs to pay attention.

Checklist of Board Roles and Responsibilities

101| Community resource. Basic board roles and responsibilities are the foundation for a successful board. BoardSource has designed this checklist so you can quickly remind yourself of your key responsibilities.