Member, Director, or Trustee?

Terminology may be more important than you think

Until his recent death, William Safire’s weekly On Language column in The New York Times Magazine reminded us that words do matter.

The same is certainly true for the words we use to describe those who serve on nonprofit governing boards, as well as the people who hold executive positions in nonprofit human service organizations. Common terminology for each has changed dramatically over the years.

These changes reflect, embody, and encourage new thinking about the role of nonprofit governance and management. They reinforce strength and significance, as well as position individuals who serve on boards of directors and as the heads of organizations for “leadership” rather than “followership.”

The ‘Members’ Versus ‘Directors’ Debate


Thomas J. Harvey and John Tropman are co-authors of Nonprofit Governance, a book published in 2009 that offers modern information and practical guidelines for the directors and executives of nonprofit organizations of all sizes.

Historically, in the nonprofit sector, members of the governance team—what we know as “the board of directors”—were not usually called “directors.” It’s somewhat peculiar because “board of directors” has almost always been used to describe the team, even as individuals retained the title of “member.”

Microsoft Word’s thesaurus provides three areas of definition for the word member: associate (associate, affiliate), part (part, constituent, element, portion), and limb (limb, appendage, organ). Yet, none of these options conveys a robust orientation or disposition to accomplish great service.

Recently, the concept of “director” has become more common; even this publication, the Nonprofit Director, borrows the term for its title. This trend began in the 1980s as President Ronald Reagan cut back government services and as nonprofits became more frontline. At least, that’s how it appeared to some; others, including us, believe that nonprofits have always been front line.

The use of the “director” nomenclature, a term that is also favored by the for-profit sector, began to take hold. “Director” conveys more leadership than followership. Indeed, it may well be that the past lackluster performance of many nonprofit board members, and the boards as a whole, was in part produced by mere association with the concept of member.

The Appeal of ‘Trustee’

Other governance terms are also used by the nonprofit sector, but none has taken off universally. We’re referring to terms such as “board of governors” or “board of regents,” designations frequently adopted in higher education, as well as “board of trustees,” a term which has come into favor more recently.

Share your thoughts. Choose the appropriate survey from below. Surveys are quick, and responses are anonymous.


Trustees are the same as members, directors, regents, or governors, but the term trustee implies more of a custodial function that is appropriate for social-benefit, as opposed to investor-benefit, organizations.

Along those lines, another nomenclature discussion—one that probably warrants its own discussion in a future column—relates to the definition of social-benefit organizations.

Because most nonprofits are deemed to work for the community good, society—through its elected officials—authorizes tax exemptions for these organizations. We prefer, however, to use the term “tax expenditure,” because it better reflects how society invests in the mission of social-benefit organizations. In a sense, the exemptions are expenditures, or investments, in the work of these organizations. In return, nonprofits produce a value proposition that makes these investments worthwhile.

The same reasoning applies to explain why the term “trustee” has appeal. It connotes positive action, as well as action that’s “in trust” for a higher purpose.

Implications of ‘President and CEO’

The second area of the changing nomenclature within the nonprofit sector involves the name of organizations’ lead executives.

Early in the 20th century, the highest paid employee was called the “secretary” of the organization or “general secretary.” Later the title “executive secretary” emerged, followed by “executive director.”


Comments? Suggestions? Topics You'd Like to See Covered?

We welcome your thoughts, replies, and suggestions for future column topics. Please submit them electronically.


These titles were distinct from the for-profit sector, which preferred titles such as “chief executive officer” (CEO) or “president.” In the nonprofit sector, “president” was typically reserved for the president of the board.

In time, nonprofit executives began thinking about their role in new terms. Many executives felt that since they often work with volunteer trustees who themselves are for-profit CEOs or presidents, nonprofit heads should have comparable titles. Thus, today many executives—perhaps the majority of the largest nonprofit organizations—go by president, CEO, or president and CEO.

As nonprofit executives began assuming this new title, the term “chair” or “board chair” began to be applied, almost universally, for the board leader.

A couple of implications are worth noting. One is that these changes embody a movement of status for the executive away from a subordinate role as “secretary” to at least an equal level as “president and CEO.” From numerous conversations with trustees, we believe that directors are expecting more leadership from the CEO. Whereas historically the “secretary” was the servant of the board, now that role is more dynamically called to lead the agency in fulfillment of its mission.

Second, the change in status for the nonprofit executive has also frequently led to the president and CEO becoming a voting member of the board. This goes beyond an issue of status. The CEO, as the facilitator of information sharing with the board, has an enormously influential role in the functioning of the board even without a vote.

Is there an additional value in the CEO having a vote? If there is a close vote in which there is barely a majority, does a CEO benefit by being on record? Success or failure of a policy’s implementation could, realistically, be attributed to the CEO’s deciding vote.

This is a serious implication of the shift in how the sector thinks about organization executives, and it’s one that should be considered thoughtfully. It certainly would be a good subject for one of our future columns.

Thomas J. Harvey, MSW, is director of the Master of Nonprofit Administration Program at the University of Notre Dame’s Mendoza College of Business. During his 40-year career, he has led local and national organizations committed to confronting the challenges of poverty, discrimination, and access to health care and human services. He is former senior vice president of the Alliance, and he served as president and CEO of Catholic Charities USA. In 2002, he helped found the Alliance’s Executive Leadership Institute. He has been named as one of the 50 pioneers within the field of social work during the past 50 years by the Council on Social Work Education.

John Tropman, Ph.D., is professor and associate dean for faculty affairs at the University of Michigan School of Social Work. He’s also an adjunct professor at the university’s Ross School of Business. His research focuses on the organizational elements that create high-performing human service organizations, which has resulted in numerous articles and more than 20 books. As a consultant, he works with both individuals and organizations. He’s also a member of the faculty for the Alliance’s Executive Leadership Institute.

 View the archive of On Board with Nonprofit Governance columns.


Excellent things from you, man. Ive study your things before and you're just too amazing. I really like what you have got here, really like what you're saying and the way you say it. You create it interesting and you still handle to keep it intelligent. I cant hold out to study more from you. This is really an excellent weblog.

Cheap hajj Packages  | Cheap flights To Harare  | Hajj Package 2013 | Flights to Harare | Cheap flights to lagos | Cheap flights to Entebbe | Cheap flights to dar es salaam |

Cheap flighs to accra | Cheap umrah Packages

cover letter for a proposal

cover letter for a proposal That viewer and readers can easily understand the concept. I Efforts must appreciate you posting these on information.

Every where this structure

Every where this structure should be maintained perfectly. it is hihgly important.Long term care policies

Please let me know if you're

Please let me know if you're looking for a article author for your weblog. You have some really great posts and I feel I would be a good asset. If you ever want to take some of the load off, I'd love to write some material for your blog in exchange for a link back to mine. Please shoot me an email if interested. - Melia Propolis Sehat

title loan

I like the helpful information you provide for your articles. I’ll bookmark your weblog and check again here frequently. I am quite sure I’ll learn many new stuff proper here! Best of luck for the following!

title loan


clipping path

Such a very informatics post, as I have browsed the majority of your posts. But I found this post is almost certainly where I got the most useful information for my research. It is really very interesting to read this particular post. I just would like to say thanks for your great efforts.
clipping path

 Thanks for taking the time

 Thanks for taking the time to discuss this, I feel strongly about it and love learning more on this topic. If possible, as you gain expertise, would you mind updating your blog with more information? 


This was really so very interesting and fun for me to read. Thanks for sharing. counter strike online

This type of message always

This type of message always inspiring and I prefer to read quality content, I never read such beautiful article before. This article is very unique and full of surprise. I nver read this kind of article that is straighforward when regarding to the topic. Very intense kind of writing. Keep up the good and unique article writing. - model baju hamil

Is there any way to turn it

Is there any way to turn it to give us profit. advertising Balloons can serve us a lot. I am gonna imply this within a short time.

Such debate should be

Such debate should be arranged more and more. pillbox This is so needed for good services.

In addition to traditional

In addition to traditional wires, there are many new web-based services. Choosing the right one for your business sometimes requires trial and error. website launch press release

Thanks for sharing

Thanks for taking the time to discuss this, I feel strongly about it and love learning more on this topic. If possible, as you gain expertise, would you mind updating your blog with more information? It is extremely helpful for me .

Houston Web Design, Austin Web Design,Web design price, web design cost


i   have never given this a

i   have never given this a deep thought.but really it is the high time to think about this.Canada Jobs search portal

. If you want to increase

. If you want to increase your visibility and creditability, you must have more and more subscribers. The question now is how to make these more subscribers. The first and oldest method was to wait for people to watch your videos and let them make a decision on whether to like or dislike them. It is likely that a certain percentage might end up liking your content

Online Traffic For Your Video
Online Followers for your profile

This site is excellent and so

This site is excellent and so is how the subject matter was explained. I also like some of the comments too.Waiting for next post. - jual tabung pemadam api

Longchamp Outlet

{It was|It had been|It absolutely was|It turned out|That it was|It had become|Rrt had been|It was subsequently|It was actually|It has been|It's} {a|the|any|a new|some sort of|your|a good|an important|a fabulous|some|a real} {culture|tradition|lifestyle|way of life|traditions|customs|society|community|heritage|modern society|civilization} {clash|conflict|collide|battle|deviate} {when the|once the|if the|in the event the|if your|as soon as the|should the|after the|whenever the|in case the|the moment the} Broadway {Association|Organization|Connection|Relationship|Affiliation|Connections|Correlation|Organisation|Bureau|Acquaintance|Collective} {honored|thankful|privileged|recognized|respected} {theater|theatre|movie theater|cinema|movie|show|live theater|live theatre|concert|live entertainment|entertainment} {producer|maker|manufacturer|company|developer|creator|supplier|designer|vendor|business|the manufacturer} Daryl Roth {and|as well as|and also|along with|in addition to|plus|together with|and even|not to mention|and additionally|and then} {Police|Law enforcement|Law enforcement officials|Authorities|Police force|Cops|Police arrest|Law enforcement agency|Criminal arrest|Police officers|Criminal court} Commissioner {Ray|Beam|Lewis|Jimmy} {Kelly|Kelly felix}. {Sources|Resources|Options|Solutions|Places|Methods|Suppliers|Origins|Assets|Companies|Providers} {said that|asserted|declared|declared that|stated that|asserted that|revealed that|testified that|announced|announced that|mentioned that} {after|following|right after|soon after|immediately after|just after|once|when|subsequent to|upon|immediately following} Roth {accepted|recognized|approved|acknowledged|recognised|established|taken|well-accepted|agreed on|authorized|favored} {the|the actual|the particular|your|this|a|any|typically the|all the|that|all of the} {Visionary|Experienced} {Leader|Innovator|Head|Chief|Boss|Director|Alpha dog|Commander|Standard|Chief executive|Expert} {Award|Honor|Prize|Merit|Give|Accolade|Honour|Grant|Designation|Earnings|Money}, {she|your woman|the lady|the girl|the woman|your lover|this lady|your sweetheart|this girl|your lady|this woman} {invited|asked|welcome|welcomed} {Kelly|Kelly felix} {to come|in the future|ahead|into the future|to return|to come back|in to the future|coming|to arrive|that come|up ahead} {check out|take a look at|have a look at|look at|look into|consider|visit|find out more about|investigate|examine|go and visit} {her|the woman's|the girl|your ex|the woman|the girl's|her own|your girlfriend|their|the|him / her} {show|display|present|demonstrate|indicate|exhibit|clearly show|reveal|demonstrate to|express|illustrate}, {Kinky|Perverted|Freakish} {Boots|Footwear|Boot styles|Shoes or boots|Shoes|Boot footwear|" booties "|Hunter wellies|Overshoes|Hiking footwear|Hunter wellingtons}. {I|We|My partner and i|My spouse and i|I actually|I personally|I really|When i|I just|That i|Simply put i} {d|deb|n|deborah|chemical|debbie|h|g|in|t|and} {love to|like to|want to|wish to|desire to|adore to|enjoy to|enjoy|choose to|would like to|really love to}, {Kelly|Kelly felix} {responded|replied|reacted|answered|said|told her|told the pollsters|sent a reply|told the pollster}, {then|after that|next|and then|subsequently|in that case|then simply|consequently|afterward|therefore|now} {jokingly|amusingly} {added|additional|extra|included|added in|increased|put in|incorporated|applied|further|integrated}, {But when you|However when you|But if you|Just make sure|Properly|Just be sure|The right way .|To chop|A whole|On the|Create a} {re|lso are|re also|regarding|actu} {in my|during my|within my|inside my|around my|at my|in doing my|with my|throughout my|inside|into my} {position|placement|place|situation|location|posture|job|spot|standing|stance|status}, {you can|you are able to|it is possible to|you'll be able to|you may|you possibly can|you could|you can actually|it is easy to|you're able to|you can easily} {t|capital t|big t|to|testosterone levels|testosterone|l|w not|longer|g|r} {be|end up being|become|always be|possibly be|often be|turn out to be|get|wind up being|end up|come to be} {see|observe|notice|discover|view|find|look at|find out|check out|watch|witness} #file_links\keywords2.txt, #file_links\keywords4.txt,1,S] 1,S #file_links\keywords5.txt,1,S] ] {n|d|in|and|deborah|m|s|north|debbie|t} {at a|in a|with a|at the|for a|in the|on a|within a|from a|during a|with only a} {show|display|present|demonstrate|indicate|exhibit|clearly show|reveal|demonstrate to|express|illustrate} {with a|having a|using a|which has a|that has a|by using a|which includes a|along with a|by having a|accompanied by a|having} {title|name|identify|subject|headline|concept|brand|label|heading|distinction|term} {like that|like this|that way|prefer that|this way|that adheres to that|such as that|individuals|prefer this|of that ranking|just like that}! {A|The|Any|A new|Some sort of|Your|A good|An important|A fabulous|Some|A real} {rep|repetition|representative|sales rep|distributor|reputation|associate|rap|individual|supplier|agent} {for the|for that|for your|to the|with the|for any|to your|for those|in the|on your|for ones} {show|display|present|demonstrate|indicate|exhibit|clearly show|reveal|demonstrate to|express|illustrate}, {however|nevertheless|nonetheless|even so|on the other hand|having said that|yet|then again|but|still|in spite of this}, {explained|described|discussed|spelled out|defined|revealed|outlined|stated|detailed|identified|mentioned}, {Despite|In spite of|Regardless of|Even with|Irrespective of|Inspite of|Notwithstanding|Even though|No matter what|Despite having|No matter} {its|it's|the|their|it is|it has the|a|the nation's|its own|her|it really is} {title|name|identify|subject|headline|concept|brand|label|heading|distinction|term}, {the|the actual|the particular|your|this|a|any|typically the|all the|that|all of the} {musical|music|audio|musical technology|play|musical show} {with|along with|together with|using|having|by using|utilizing|through|with the help of|by means of|by way of} {tunes|music|songs|melodies|tracks|audio|records|sounds|new music|song} {by|through|simply by|by simply|by means of|by way of|by just|as a result of|from|just by|with} Cyndi Lauper {is appropriate|is suitable|is acceptable|is correct|is proper|meets your needs|is in line|is actually appropriate|is true} {for all ages|for everyone} {even|actually|also|perhaps|possibly|sometimes|quite possibly|possibly even|perhaps even|in fact|still} {those in|those who work in|those invoved with|those involved with|those who are in|individuals|people in|individuals in} {public|open public|community|general public|open|consumer|general population|people|court|manifeste|common} #file_links\keywords3.txt,1,S] {office|workplace|business office|place of work|company|office environment|business|home office|clinic|work|workspace}. {It|This|That|The idea|The item|Them|It all|The application|It again|The software|Doing it} s {earned|gained|attained|received|acquired|won|generated|made|garnered|obtained|accumulated} {13|Thirteen|Tough luck|12|14|15|10} {Tony|Tony a2z|A2z tony|Tony adamowicz|Tony morrison} nominations. {Perhaps a|What about a|Why not a|The|Maybe a|Any} {win|earn|acquire|get|gain|succeed|secure|triumph|be successful|succeed in|be successful with} {will|may|will certainly|can|will probably|is going to|could|definitely will|might|should|are going to} {sway|swing} {Kelly|Kelly felix}. {The|The actual|The particular|Your|This|A|Any|Typically the|All the|That|All of the} {awards|honours|prizes|accolades|honors|funds|rewards|ribbons|gifts|cash incentives|gives} {luncheon|lunch} {at the|in the|on the|with the|for the|within the|along at the|around the|from the|inside the|along the} {InterContinental|Global|Overseas} {was|had been|has been|ended up being|seemed to be|appeared to be|was initially|was in fact|was basically|is|was first} emceed {by|through|simply by|by simply|by means of|by way of|by just|as a result of|from|just by|with} Rosanna Scotto {and the|and also the|as well as the|along with the|plus the|as well as|additionally, the|and also|and then the|together with the|also, the} commish s {son|boy|child|kid|daughter|youngster|young man|child ,|toddler|son and daughter|young boy}, Greg {Kelly|Kelly felix}. {Follow|Adhere to|Stick to|Comply with|Abide by|Observe|Carry out|Go along with|Pursue|Adopt|Use} @PageSi #file_links\keywords1.txt,1,S] {x|by|times|a|back button|y|z|c} Result: the frames processed; chosen nickname "ronalgjg"; success - posted to first encountered partition "/guestbook.html"; Result: chosen nickname "ronalacb"; success - posted to first encountered partition "/guestbook.html"; Result: chosen nickname "ronalsei"; success; BB-code not working; Result: chosen nickname "ronalccb"; success; Result: chosen nickname "tomsrbc"; success;

Wonderful being going to your

Wonderful being going to your blog once again, it's been weeks to me. This report in which i am silently laid for such a long time. I would like this information to complete my own project within the school, and possesses exact same topic using your.. - sedia cream walet

Great post

Acne No More Review use many terminology so I can't understand the entire contents.

I am find information on this

I am find information on this topic as I am working on a business project. Thank you posting relative information and its now becoming easier to complete this project. - cream walet asli

help with writing a resume

help with writing a resume I have found very useful information over there, thanks for sharing this. please try to add more informative posts in order to keep us in touch.

I am find information on this

I am find information on this topic as I am working on a business project. Thank you posting relative information and its now becoming easier to complete this project. - cream walet

keppel new launch

the glades condo has been the same the techniques and how they can work out for most of the cases like these things.


I think in some case, you must use terminology to clearly explain the content. Does Grow Taller 4 Idiots Work


I don't like using terminology in Magnetic Messaging Review because it can be confusing.


I think specialized terms is very important because you must know it that you can learn about this major. How To Grow Taller Naturally

Great post

I must learn many specialized Terminology when I study biotechnology. Family Survival Course Review

Thank you very much for your

Thank you very much for your excellent as well as results-oriented assist. My partner and i won’t think twice for you to recommend your website post exposed to be able to anyone wants and needs help about it location.

spanish translation services

spanish translation services Hello, I found your blog in a new directory of blogs. I dont know how your blog came up, must have been a typo, Your blog looks good. Have a nice day.

Great post

I think I must buy pinterest likes to advertising for my site.

whatsapp extractor

whatsapp extractor This is a smart blog. You have so much knowledge about this issue, and so much passion. You also know how to make people rally behind it, obviously from t he responses


I think Terminology is very important. You must know and understand it when you read document.


I think Terminology is very important especially when you want to study more about them.

Project management software

Project management software on the market uses the most universally used/commonly known terms for the different components, although this may not be the specific term your business usually uses, and so this is where you can run into problems.Website Design Melbourne

When that woman was alive she

When that woman was alive she  best always, both in word and deed, went contrary to my commands; therefore .


work from home online has done something like this nonprofit and other things like this campaign.

It stands to reason then,

It stands to reason then, that this is a consideration when you are choosing an issue tracker, so best practice would be to implement an issue tracker which allows the user to customise the terminology used to be in line with their businesses usual working terminology. taekwondo uniforms

These biochemical responses

These biochemical responses help regulate the autonomic nervous system and create a sense of calm. Studies evaluating the effectiveness of EFT tapping show that it can help people with with a host of stress-related issues, ranging from anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder to public speaking and sports performance.Rodeo Bull Hire

Software which is created

Software which is created this way could also be seen as more accessible as with the terms made unique to the business those with limited technical knowledge are already in the loop rather than needing to adapt to new phrases and anyone can open a file and amend to suit.Vietnam tour


SlittyQueuevy xaikalitag Exenniank - iziananatt Jeockefwose Boalfumma

the main reasons are: United

the main reasons are: United Kingdom real estate market is currently in rapid economic development and urbanization in the background, with Japan in the 1960s similar. United Kingdom's current urbanization rate is only about 43%,

Executive has also frequently

Executive has also frequently led to the president and CEO becoming a voting member of the board. This goes buy term papers beyond an issue of status.

I bookmarked it to my

I bookmarked it to my bookmark web site record and can be checking again soon. Pls check out my website as well and let me know what you

 Very good and useful

 Very good and useful information. Why not write a book about this topic.For today’s economic fluctuation and lack of opportunities, it really will be a very hot topic. Thanks anyway. All the best.

Thank you for this article.

Thank you for this article. I'm glad accesses the net this stuff works and your article has really helped me from beginning to end. And to share with you my thoughts. - SEO Service

Great Post. I have not been

Great Post. I have not been visiting the site recently. Took a visit again and there were some great comments on the site. Excellent post. Keep up the good work. Harga iPhone : Harga BlackBerry Terbaru : Kata Mutiara

In a sense, the exemptions

In a sense, the exemptions are expenditures, or investments, in the work of these organizations. In return, nonprofits produce a value proposition that makes these investments worthwhile. pula yacht

Nice Post

There is lot of information and they are very innovative and informative. I have read the article very well and it seems to me awesome.

casino online, agen ibcbet, agen sbobet

This goes beyond an issue of

This goes beyond an issue of status. The CEO, as the facilitator of information sharing with the board, has an enormously influential role in the functioning of the board even without a vote.

Executive Leadership Institute

Useful writing and thanks for expanding to the entire world. Several factors in here I have not believed about before. Thanks to make this kind of amazing publish which is really completely published. Keep Blogging! Divorce Attorney Seattle