Volunteer as a Nonprofit Board Member
A nonprofit is not owned by any individual but is governed by a volunteer board of directors. The board of directors fulfills its governance duties of due care, loyalty and obedience through a variety of practices and protocols. Becoming a board member for a local nonprofit is a great way to volunteer and support an organization, and all registered nonprofits in the state are required to have a board of directors. Nonprofits in Oregon depend on their board members for leadership, guidance, knowledge, and assistance. Boards are essential to nonprofit success.
Board members serve nonprofit organizations in a number of important ways. They bring connections, talent, experience, passion, perspective, and more. Here are a few reasons that you might want to get involved:
- To advance a mission that you are passionate about.
- To develop skills and broaden your experience.
- To make new connections, build relationships, and contribute to a team.
- To give your expertise, support, guidance, time, and energy to a cause you care about.
How to Get Involved
Before joining a board, you will want to gain a thorough understanding of the roles and responsibilities of board service, and the specific expectations of board members for the organization you are considering. You will also want to join a board that is involved in an area of service that you would like to support. Below are ways to find nonprofits of interest.
NAO Nonprofit Member List: You can find Oregon nonprofits that are current NAO members and search by city to see member nonprofits in your area. NAO is the statewide nonprofit membership organization representing and supporting charitable nonprofits of all sizes, geographic locations and missions across Oregon. As a membership association, NAO offers low cost membership with a host of member benefits that includes cost saving discounts on products and services.
Oregon Secretary of State: You can do research on registered nonprofits in Oregon through the Secretary of State website.
Oregon Secretary of State - Search Oregon Charities: You can search a charity by name and access their incorporation history, budget and annual charity reports.
GuideStar - You can search for nonprofits in Oregon that are registered with GuideStar, an information service that specializes in reporting on nonprofits nationwide.
- Outlines your rights, roles, and responsibilities as a board member in Oregon. Charitable organizations vary greatly in size, structure and mission, but there are a number of principles that apply to all nonprofits. The Oregon Department of Justice distributes a Guide to Nonprofit Board Service in Oregon (pdf) to assist board members in understanding these principles.
- Overview of Board Roles and Responsibilities from the National Council of Nonprofits, a trusted resource and advocate for America’s charitable nonprofits and the largest network of nonprofits in the country. NAO is part of the nationwide network of state associations affiliated with the Council.
- Guide for determining if Nonprofit Board Service is the right volunteer path for you with questions to consider and tips on how to get started. BoardSource provides board leadership, training and support for nonprofit leaders across the country.
- NAO offers monthly learning and peer-networking opportunities in the Portland-Metro area for nonprofit board members to help build skills, strengthen leadership, and increase effectiveness as a board member. For NAO nonprofit members, board members and staff of the member organization receive up to a 50% discount on network training sessions. Here are additional NAO Convening and Learning opportunities.
- NAO offers many resources on our website based on Principles and Practices for Nonprofit Excellence. The Governance section features resources and tools for nonprofit board member service and governance.