Foundation Operations: Board Issues-> Board Structure-> Term Limits - GIH Skip Navigation

Foundation Operations: Board Issues-> Board Structure-> Term Limits

Should there be term limits for board members?

Many foundations do set term limits for board members, allowing for a clear governance structure, ability to stagger terms of trustees, assess what new skills are needed, plan for succession, and support a thoughtful nominations process. In GIH's most recent survey of new health foundations, The Business of Giving: Governance and Asset Management in Foundations Formed from Health Care Conversions,

foundations reported on the term length of board members:

  • Approximately three-fourths of foundations formed from a health care conversion reported that the term of a board member was three years.

  • Twelve percent of the foundations reported board terms of four to six years.

  • About three-fourths of all responding foundations have limits on the number of terms board members could serve. The majority set a two-term or three-term limit.

  • Nearly one-third of responding foundations limit total board member service to six years or fewer. Another third limit board members' total service to seven to nine years.

BoardSource's recent survey of nonprofit board members and chief executives, The Nonprofit Governance Index 2004, found that most respondents have three-year board terms (64 percent) and that 58 percent have term limits. The majority (41 percent) limit board service to two consecutive terms.

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