Board members are elected members that lead the organization; often they include founding members. In this context, all major decision making in the organization goes through them. In my experience, I have noticed that sometimes board members become passive and rather apathetic to decisions being made, which can bias the views of the organization towards the opinions of the remaining Board Members. If you’re on a board of an NGO and you see this happening around you, you’re not alone…it’s a trend!

It’s important to deal with this issue because if all members aren’t represented in each decision, you’ll see resistance and conflicts arising here and there every once in a while, especially from the inactive board members who can feel out-of-touch.

What makes decision making in NGOs different from private sector or governmental institutions is the fact that everyone’s opinion matters and most decisions are done either democratically or through consensus. It should never be a one-man show.


In addition to having a decision-making role, all boards have a distribution of roles and responsibilities where the most common structure is: President, Vice President, General Secretary, Treasurer and Accountant. Each individual not only has his decision-making role, but also a functional role to play, whether it’s taking care of financials, managing internal communication or heading committees. If those tasks and responsibilities are implemented properly, this second pillar will ensure that the NGO stands tall and becomes sustainable. When leadership roles are managed properly, the internal dynamics of the organization function properly.


Board Member of an NGO you suddenly become a ‘jack-of-all-trades’ as your responsibilities expand beyond what you expect. You roll up your sleeves and take on tasks related to strategic planning, outreach, public relations, proposal writing, volunteer management, project management, reporting, web development, graphic design, fundraising, training, consulting, event organizing and so on. Great board members do not just make decisions or perform the duties of their title, they get involved at all levels and are able to assist, support and improve what their organization does.