Organizational Structure


Note: Articles published before January 1, 2017 may be out of date. We are in the process of updating this content.

A board officer is a board member with additional duties and responsibilities. State laws stipulate which officer positions a nonprofit must have. The most common ones are chair, vice-chair, treasurer, and secretary. This is not an all inclusive list; every board can create additional positions that help it do its work in a more efficient manner. The duties of officers need to be described in the bylaws to clarify the levels of authority as officers often have specific rights to represent the organization and sign documents.

Most commonly officers are elected by fellow board members from among themselves. In formal membership organizations officers may be elected by members. Whatever the process, the governance committee has an important role in sharing information on the candidates and ensuring that the slate includes qualified candidates.

Occasionally the state law forbids the same person from serving as the chair and the treasurer. Many boards combine the treasurer and secretary functions. And today it is more and more common to have a staff person carry out the common tasks of a treasurer: taking minutes and keeping the documents.

The following links provide sample job descriptions and lists of duties for officer positions: