NFP (not-for-profits, charities and professional regulators) Board models vary in size and function, and depending on the terms of reference or objects, have varying levels of responsibility to serve as trustees, and/or act in the best interests of the public/the members/registrants/licensees, and/or the organization. Individuals have many different reasons for volunteering their time with a NFP, including a shared vision, a desire to give back to the community, to gain new experience, to expand their social network and/or to move closer to a desired career goal.

Volunteers are the heart of virtually all NFPs to one extent or another, whether as volunteer leaders, Board or committee members. The impact of a good volunteer versus one who may not share the NFP’s vision and objectives can be significant and sometimes problematic. Learning how to proactively train and orient new volunteers, and to effectively manage and harness their important contributions, is a key to success for a NFP’s effectiveness and reputation. NFP transparency is an essential requirement, and we have all seen what happens when Boards act in ways that cause concern as to how an organization is functioning.

There are several ways to help recruit, train and retain good volunteers, and depending on the size and objects of the NFP, they can include:

  • Development of effective written Board and committee policies and procedures, including ‘codes of conduct’ that describe behavior and other expectations of volunteers and staff, managing conflict, and set out measures for accountability and transparency – these can be simple or complex, as appropriate to the NFP
  • Clear objectives and annual plans, tied to achieving longer-term Strategic Plans if appropriate
  • Terms of Reference for the Board and any/all committees, as well as annual committee work plans
  • Timely, comprehensive orientation programs for new volunteers, covering all aspects of the NFPs operations, finances, risk management strategies, introduction to key staff or volunteers and their responsibilities, and any applicable reference tools such as organizational charts, budgets, financial statements and details of the current Strategic Plan, as appropriate
  • Use of tools to identify gaps in skills and experience required for an effectively functioning Board or committee, which will help NFPS recruit with the goal of filling these gaps rather than populating committees with whomever applies
  • A process for identifying measureable operational and policy objectives as well as a means for evaluating the Board or committee’s progress toward those objectives, both individual contributions as well as collective
  • Provision of regular informative reports to the Boards and committees to help engage them in the NFPs work, and to support transparency and accountability, and informed decision-making

The lawyers at Pink Larkin can help by providing legal advice your NFP, train your volunteers, and give you the tools to meet your goals and objectives.  For more information, visit our website at,  or contact us at 902-423-7777.