A true advisory board is exactly that: advisory. It is distinct from the actual governing board of directors, and has no authority other than what is granted to it by the governing board. But, advisory boards can be very useful for nonprofits as idea-engines, “homes” for valued volunteers who have rotated off the governing board and wish to stay connected to the organization, or alternately, for not-yet-board-members, who wish to test-drive their relationship with an organization and who can bring helpful resources of time, talent, and treasure to the organization. Nonprofits may create advisory boards for a variety of reasons including as an additional resource for fundraising, to create a link with a specific group of stakeholders, such as government, or simply to tap into the brainpower of trusted and valued community members.
Before inviting anyone to join an advisory board, make sure the (1) purpose, (2) role, and (3) authority of the advisory board are well-considered and documented in writing.
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