The Board Chair Handbook focuses on helping nonprofit board chairs carry out their responsibilities for the good of the organization. Whether you are a seasoned board chair wanting to brush up and learn something new, an incoming board chair seeking knowledge and skills, or a person considering the possibility of becoming a board chair, this book is intended to be user-friendly and practical. The guidance will also be useful to chief executives, other management personnel who interact with the board chair (including operations officers, development directors, financial officers, and marketing directors), and consultants who work with nonprofit organizations.

This updated third edition offers new material in every chapter with expanded sections on the board chair role and the partnership with the chief executive. A new appendix outlines a leadership development model for using this handbook to create a peer-to-peer learning community of board chairs.

This book is organized into three sections:

  • The Foundation: Building Individual Capacity (Part I) focuses on preparing to take on the tasks and responsibilities of the board chair, beginning with an exploration of the personal decision to accept the job and covering roles, relationships, and skills.
  • The Journey: Optimizing the Work of the Board (Part II) deals with the application of strong leadership and sound governance practices with a focus on board process and board tasks.
  • The Finale: Creating Endings and New Beginnings (Part III) addresses how to prepare for the end of your term as board chair, the importance of closure, and answering, “What’s next?”

Each chapter ends with a list of Board Chair’s Reminders — key tasks to help you do your job effectively. Appendix 1 provides a summary of these lists. Appendix 2 lists the twelve principles of exceptional governance found in The Source (BoardSource, 2005). Appendices 3 and 4 offer tools for supporting your board chair role, including how to create a learning community of board chairs along with samples of board meeting agendas and board member correspondence. Throughout the book, you’ll see board statistics and quotes from board members and chief executives. These data were collected during the BoardSource Nonprofit Governance Index 2012 survey, and they provide interesting insight into board service.