Tensions and misunderstandings about the different roles of the board and the CEO/Director can be the biggest obstacle to the welfare and direction of your NPO.


Key principles of the relationship between the board and the CEO/Director are:

  • For the board to understand its role is to ensure good governance and to support the CEO/Director.
  • For the board to understand that the CEO/Director leads the NPO by implementing its vision, mission, strategies policies and programmes.
  • For the board and the CEO/Director to realise that the CEO/Director, the board and all board members need the ability and resources to carry out their different roles and responsibilities.
  • For the board and the CEO/Director to commit themselves to work together as partners with clear boundaries between their roles and responsibilities.

Boundaries and emphasis in CEO/Director and board roles

  • The CEO/Director is hired to lead and direct the NPO, and to implement its strategies, policies and programmes. The CEO/Director should include staff and the board in carrying out her or his functions.
  • The board appoints the leader and has final responsibility for the activities of the NPO. The chair of the board is the key link to the CEO/Director, and a good relationship between them often leads to a successful NPO.
  • The CEO/Director is not just a grand manager. As the leader and as a member of the board, the CEO/Director should give strategic direction too and drive organisational development so that the NPO achieves its goals.
  • The board keeps an eye on the NPO’s direction and the leader’s performance, but should not interfere with the daily tasks of the CEO/Director. Rather, the board should receive regular reports from the leader and engage with the CEO/Director when needed or requested.