Good Board/Bad Board Part 1 – Define Your Board

Non-profit boards are unique and complicated entities. Non-profit Historic Theatre boards are no exception to that rule. In order to satisfy IRS requirements, 501(c) 3 organizations should follow the recommendations ( of the IRS which state:

The Internal Revenue Service believes that a well-governed charity is more likely to obey the tax laws, safeguard charitable assets, and serve charitable interests than one with poor or lax governance. A charity that has clearly articulated purposes that describe its mission, a knowledgeable and committed governing body and management team, and sound management practices is more likely to operate effectively and consistent with tax law requirements. And while the tax law generally does not mandate particular management structures, operational policies, or administrative practices, it is important that each charity be thoughtful about the governance practices that are most appropriate for that charity in assuring sound operations and compliance with the tax law.”

Unfortunately, there are few resources available to define specific skill sets and experiences that would be most beneficial to serve on historic theatre boards, not just non-profit boards. Each project is different, and each community has a unique set of individuals both qualified and interested in serving on boards.

A few ideal qualifications for Board service include:

Attorney – Legal experience, governance issues

CPA or bookkeeper – Accounting experience, tax returns, financial oversight

Small business owner – General business operations/management experience

Current or former Executive Director/501 (c) 3 – non-profit management

Entertainment professional – Experience in the industry, booking and contracts

Professional fundraiser – Fundraising experience (long-term & annual)

Banker, financial planner – Finance experience (endowments, investments)

Volunteer coordinator – experience recruiting and training volunteers

Marketing & PR professional – Industry contacts and experience

Of course it is not always possible to find all of these individuals, and it is also important to fill out some board seats with “worker-bees” who will help accomplish the good work of a board. The trick is to not just take any Board member “with a pulse”. Each position must be filled with an eye towards the larger organism; who can we add to create the most talented, experienced and prepared board to meet the challenges we MAY face as an organization.

Posted on: October 25, 2010