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Volunteers in Charge of Everything?

Resources for the Boards of All-Volunteer Organizations

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Good governance is the foundation of all successful nonprofit and membership organizations, and much has been written to help boards of directors do their work well. But most of the literature and available training about how to develop an effective volunteer board focuses only on groups large enough to have paid staff who handle day-to-day responsibilities. What about the thousands of all-volunteer organizations (AVOs), where the board is in charge of everything and paid employees are rare if nonexistent?

AVOs depend entirely on volunteers to be workers and board members. These leadership volunteers must ensure that by-laws are followed, money is well managed, and legal requirements are met—and also have to plan projects and motivate their many members! One familiar AVO category is friends groups—also known as auxiliaries, depending on the setting—that support hospitals, libraries, museums, parks, and cultural heritage institutions. And though these friends groups serve different institutions, many face the same struggles as they deal with organization management and leadership needed to guide and govern their associations.

This edition of Along the Web focuses on resources to help AVO board members deal with the fundamental issues facing AVO boards. While a few of these resources were developed for specific groups, such as libraries or museums, most deal with challenges that impact all AVOs, and can be useful regardless of your organization’s focus.