Dear Governance Matters,
What is the recommended size for a nonprofit board?
Thanks for your help.
Ah, the "age old question!" The short answer is, "It depends."
The long answer gets into the type of organization, the "culture" of the organization, as well as what your bylaws say!
To perform as it should, a nonprofit board should have 15 to 25 members, according to many consultants. This provides enough board members to create a team, allocate duties, participate in the necessary standing committees and/or task forces.
However, it is not so many that you lose collegiality and have difficulty finding a room large enough to hold the meetings.
Boards with more than 25 members may become "just" fundraising boards, which is not effective governance. Another danger of very large boards is that separate interest groups can form among board members, which undermines effective teamwork.
And, lastly, many large boards are really "governed" by their Executive Committee, which is not the best way to retain and use the talents of board members, nor is it encouraged by state Attorneys General.
To understand what boards should be doing, check out the Good Governance Guide.
If this answer raises more questions, feel free to ask!
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