Board members

The difference between board and staff members

There can be a wide variation among boards in the level of board member involvement in the management of the organisation, depending on the size and funding of the organisation.  Large, well-funded organisations often have paid staff members who take care of day-to-day management.  In these organisations, board members focus on high-level issues while leaving operational issues to staff.

Many organisations operate on a much smaller scale.  A board member for a smaller organisation may well be expected to take on day-to-day management tasks in addition to playing a more high-level, strategic role. Volunteers may also perform duties that would otherwise be performed by paid staff.

The following lists the distinction between board and staff responsibilities.  In organisations with no paid staff, board members will often take on many or all staff responsibilities as well.

 The board:

  • Authorises all major decisions
  • Sets long-term goals
  • Finalises budgets and allocates funds
  • Approves any changes or additions outside the budget
  • Takes responsibility for financial records
  • Selects and monitors the performance of the executive director (who may or may not be a paid employee)
  • Takes responsibility for legal and compliance matters

The staff:

  • Carry out day-to-day management
  • Implement board decisions
  • Provide the board with any relevant or requested information
  • Employ, dismiss and manage staff and volunteers
  • Operate programmes and organise events
  • Look after day-to-day finances