by Ronald J. Meshanko, President, ERC
ERC Newsbriefs Excerpt, May 31, 1996

One of the most effective and invaluable tools for a nonprofit board member is the board member manual. It is the depository of all the information board members need to fulfill their major lobbying, fund raising, planning, evaluating, and decision-making responsibilities. Usually the manual is a three-ring binder with at least eight indexed sections that contain the following documents:

  1. Mission History and Philosophy - mission statement, philosophy statement, history statement, statements of need for each program.

  2. Board - list of board members, board committees, board job descriptions, board schedules, organizational chart and other pertinent information about board responsibilities.

  3. Minutes - board minutes.

  4. Finances - financial statement, audits.

  5. Programs - program descriptions, schedules, and other programmatic documents.

  6. Staff - list of staff, staff resumes, staff evaluations, personnel manual, etc.

  7. Fund Raising - sample proposal, appeal letters, development plan, feasibility studies, and other fund raising documents.

  8. Documents - articles of incorporation, bylaws, strategic plan, etc.
The manual begins with a table of contents noting the above items. Every new board member is to receive a manual at the board orientation session. Be sure to date every item that is placed in the manual to insure that it is kept up to date. The manual will help facilitate effective board meetings and organize the work of your board members.

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