Island Savings

Creating the Structure

Non-profit organizations come in all shapes and sizes. A poetry group that gives free readings at a café once a month is just as much a non-profit organization as an international agency mandated to protect a certain species of wildlife.


Non-profit structure

  • There are two main types of non-profit organization—those that are incorporated and registered as non-profit charitable organizations, and those that are not.
  • If you are incorporated, your organization will probably function very much like any other corporation, and that means you need a formal structure.


Keep in mind that your Board needs a sufficient range of expertise to accomplish your non-profit mission. If your board is too small, the directors may be overworked and unproductive but if your board is too large, directors may not have the opportunity to participate actively.

Starting structure

  • The structure that your organization has at the beginning will be determined by your Articles of Incorporation and your constitution.
  • There will be corporate officers, a board of directors and a staff that reports to the board, or to an executive director appointed by the board.
  • Your Board of Directors will consist of individuals appointed by the founder(s) and will consist of individuals who will set and enforce the policies and procedures of your non-profit so that it reaches it’s goals.
  • Committees can be formed within your non-profit to tackle the planning of certain initiatives such as fundraising and marketing new programs.
  • Aside from the officers, the board and the staff, non-profits have one thing that most for-profit corporations do not: volunteers. In many ways, volunteers function as an extended staff.


Train your staff to make changes that keep the focus on your mission, rather than on the survival of individual programs—that way, opportunities for innovation will emerge.

Organizational theory

One of the key roles of the board of directors is to constantly analyze what is working and what is not. If you adopt an organizational structure that is not helping you meet your goals, you'll need to change it.

A good director will never be afraid to reassess the organizational structure and initiate changes. Some directors may even feel that changes need to be made periodically to structures that are working, just to keep things from growing stagnant.

The point is, the ability to adapt and to continually strive for excellence can only be a benefit, both to the organization and to those it serves.

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