Board of Directors

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While choosing directors, one should consider:

  • General qualifications.
  • Community relations.
  • Ability to help your organization qualify for 501(c) (3) tax-exempt status.

The role of the board of directors is to develop and implement “organizational policies and goals, budgeting, fundraising, and disbursing a group’s fund.” (Mancuso, p.2/8) Mancuso (2002) draws the profile of a potential director: any member of the community with broad practical skills, with contacts in your nonprofit’s area, with fundraising or accounting experience. He suggests that the ideal number of the members on the board should be between nine and 15. Other education specialists believe that the number of board members should be between fifteen and twenty (De Luna, 1995, p.5). There is no ideal number of board members, each school foundation will decide what number works best in each case. Mancuso (2002) believes that it is helpful to prepare a job description that specifies:

  • Scope and programs of the nonprofit.
  • Board members' responsibilities and time commitments.
  • Rewards for serving on your board.

This description will give the board members an idea of what is expected of them. The full board of directors can delegate some of its duties to an executive committee of two or more directors (Mancuso, p.11/2). Foundations can decide whether they will have school board members on their board.

The literature identifies three types of foundation boards (McCormick et al., 2001, Clay et al., 1985):

  • School board-controlled foundation – all foundation directors are appointed or controlled by the Board of Education.
  • Autonomous foundation board – the foundation board is entirely separated from the school board. The school does not need to give its approval to the changes the foundation board may want to operate.
  • The embedded model- the foundation is a separate, autonomous corporation. As members of the foundation board, school administrators represent the school’s interest. Changes need to be approved unanimously by the school board representatives and the other members of the foundation board.

While deciding on which type of board will be most appropriate for the foundation, it is also critical to determine what the relationship between the foundation and the school or the school district will be. Board members should be financially committed to the foundation, thus setting a positive, credible example.

The basic format of a board includes a chairman, a president, a vice-president, a treasurer, and a secretary.

The board must be able to:

  • Determine the needs of the school. In order to establish the school or the school district needs McCormick suggests we should look at education programs, financial data (the local budget for education), and external environmental factors (inflation, demographic changes).
  • Involve the parents and the community leaders.


  • Clay, K., Hughes, K.S., Seely, J.G., & Thayer A.N. (1989). Public school foundations: Their organization and operation. Arlington, VA: Educational Research Service.
  • McCormick, D.H., Bauer, D.G., Ferguson, D.E. (2001). Creating foundations for American schools. Gaithersburg, MD: Aspen Publishers.
  • De Luna, P. (1995). The education foundation: Raising private funds for public schools (Report No. ISSN-0733-2548). Eugene, OR: Oregon School Study Council. (ERIC Document Reproduction Service No. ED390 152)
  • Mancuso, A. (2002). How to form a nonprofit corporation (5th ed.). Berkeley, CA: Nolo.