Principle 10

The board of a charitable organization should establish its own size and structure and review these periodically. The board should have enough members to allow for full deliberation and diversity of thinking on governance and other organizational matters. Except for very small organizations, this generally means that the board should have at least five members.

The size of a board depends on many factors, such as the age of the organization, the nature and geographic scope of its mission and activities, whether it is an all-volunteer organization or there is paid staff, and its funding needs. Although a larger board may ensure a wide range of perspectives and expertise, a very large board may become unwieldy and end up delegating too much responsibility to an executive committee or permitting a small group of board members to exercise substantial control. Conversely, smaller boards may elicit more active participation from each member, but they should consider whether their members collectively offer the full range of knowledge and experience necessary to inform their decisions, and, if not, provide opportunities to confer with outside experts or advisory groups on specific matters.