Have you ever wondered what the difference is between a board of directors and an advisory board?
After all, a board is a board, right?
Let me start of by explaining what an advisory board is.
An advisory board is a group of individuals who have been recruited with the sole purpose of providing guidance and recommendations to the organization’s governing board or management staff.
I truly prefer to call them a Council or a Committee so that they are not confused with the actual governing board.
What you call it is your choice, but, the function still remains the same. They may be very specific in nature focusing on a particular project such as fund development. They have no legal responsibility to the organization meaning no by-laws or term limits necessary. They are solely enlisted to provide recommendations, background, and trending information and discussion.
A board of directors on the other hand is required by law for the sole purpose of governing the organization and is the seat of accountability. They are the ones responsible for vision, mission, values, and policies and have much more of a recommendation and guidance role. They are the ones who draft policy and make changes. They also help to establish the case for support for the organization. They are also responsible for directly managing the non-profit’s chief executive officer. Financial oversight is one of the key responsibilities that board members hold for their organization.
It is important to remember this distinction when crafting areas and roles of responsibilities as you don’t want to overwhelm an advisory board with tasks that are not actually theirs to own. They are their to recommend and review, everything else belongs to the board of directors!
So let us remember what the difference is between an advisory and a board of directors. For the health of our organization, it is critical to get this understanding right!