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Human Resources

Can my nonprofit’s board member be our HR department?


Cynde Cronin
PEO Business Development Executive

In the effort to fulfill the mission, nonprofits can de-emphasize the importance of a strategic human resources capability. Often they will turn to a knowledgeable board member to fill this role. Nonprofits go this route at their own peril. Boards of directors for nonprofits are generally volunteer positions, and in the face of acute HR challenges may be unavailable for timely responses. More worrisome is that board members may be reluctant to provide much beyond general advice, because they can place themselves in personal legal liability by doing more. Finally, board members typically have a managed stream of information from the
organization; executive directors are hired in part because of their board management capabilities. With limited detailed operational knowledge, board
members may not have all the pieces to construct a strategic HR path for the
organization. Over time, that pitfall can have drastic effects on the ability of a
nonprofit to fulfill its mission.

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