The Three T’s of Nonprofit Boards: Time, Talent, and Treasure

The success of any nonprofit depends significantly on its Board of Directors. These dedicated individuals give their time, talent, and treasure – the so-called “Three T’s,” to help the organization grow and thrive. But what does each ‘T’ represent, and why are they so critical to a nonprofit’s success?


The first ‘T’ stands for ‘time.’ Nonprofit board members are expected to spend significant time serving their organizations. This isn’t just about attending board meetings. It also includes understanding the organization’s purpose and strategy, participating in fundraising activities, getting involved with the community, advocating for the organization, and overseeing its financial health and the impact of its programs.

The amount of time spent is important, but so is how that time is used. Effective board members are actively involved, using their time to stay informed, make thoughtful decisions, and contribute to organizational discussions and initiatives.


Next, ‘talent’ refers to the skills, knowledge, and experience that board members bring. This can be anything from strategic planning and financial expertise to legal knowledge, marketing ability, or technological savvy.

A diverse board is vital. Different talents lead to unique perspectives, stimulating discussions, effective problem-solving, and creative solutions. This mix of talent helps a board keep the organization relevant and strong, able to adapt to changes, and continually improve its operations and programs.


Finally, ‘treasure’ refers to the organization’s financial support board members provide. Board members should be expected to give within their means, setting an example for other potential donors. This shows their commitment to the organization’s mission and can encourage others to give as well.

But ‘treasure’ isn’t just about personal donations. It also involves fundraising efforts – reaching out to personal networks, securing corporate sponsorships, setting up partnerships, or organizing fundraising events. The board’s involvement in fundraising can significantly increase the resources available for the organization to fulfill its mission.

In short, the ‘Three T’s’ — Time, Talent, and Treasure — are the backbone of a strong, effective nonprofit board. The organization can thrive when each board member invests time, applies their unique talents, and generously shares their treasures.

Each of these elements is crucial. Time without talent can lead to wasted efforts. Talent without treasure might mean missed opportunities for getting resources. And treasure without time can lead to a lack of connection with and understanding of the organization’s mission and impact.

The best boards balance all three T’s. They create a dynamic, productive environment that enables good governance, impactful decision-making, and the mobilization of resources that push their nonprofits toward achieving their mission.

To wrap up, understanding and using the power of the ‘Three T’s’ is vital for nonprofit organizations. It helps them successfully navigate our complex and rapidly changing world, ensuring they remain impactful, resilient, and aligned with the communities they serve. And ultimately, isn’t that what all nonprofits aim for?