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The role of the FSF's board of directors

by Free Software Foundation Contributions Published on Mar 22, 2021 10:55 PM

The FSF board believes it is its responsibility -- to free software community members, donors, movement organizations, and the general public -- to be a model of good governance.

Good governance starts with the board of directors, which oversees the organization and is ultimately responsible for its success. The board's role (and legal obligation) is to oversee the management of the organization and ensure that the organization fulfills its mission.

The board enables good management by overseeing the President and executive director, who in turn manages staff. The board's oversight role includes decision-making, monitoring and leadership.

In its decision-making capacity, the board:

  • determines the mission and purposes of the FSF;

  • drives the FSF's long-term strategy and goals;

  • formulates and regularly reviews significant corporate policies;

  • selects and evaluates the President, executive director and other officers, including determining compensation based on relevant data for the paid positions; and

  • creates and maintains effective succession plans for the FSF's leadership positions.

In its monitoring capacity, the board:

  • evaluates how well the FSF is fulfilling its mission, values, goals, and vision, including evaluating relevant risks;

  • monitors the FSF's financial performance and use of assets, including approving the annual budget;

  • conducts regular reviews of the FSF's internal controls and financial reporting;

  • oversees compliance with legal obligations and organizational policies, such as those against conflicts of interest; and

  • discusses its own performance as the leading governing body.

In its leadership capacity, the board:

  • maintains the legal and ethical integrity of the organization;

  • enhances and protects the FSF's public image;

  • advises and provides guidance to the President, executive director, and other officers, drawing on relevant board member expertise;

  • participates in fundraising to develop resources for a robust and strong organization;

  • recruits and orients new board members; and

  • works with the President and executive director to help communicate the FSF's direction and activities to the public.

FSF board members are not compensated for their board service, and are not permitted to receive any personal financial benefit from FSF funds or other assets. Board members may be reimbursed for reasonable and appropriate expenses incurred in connection with their board service.

While our primary mission is freedom for software users, the FSF board unanimously condemns misogyny, racism, and other bigotry as well as defamation, intimidation, and unfair attacks on free thought and speech.

For further information, see the FSF's bylaws.

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