Are Youth Allowed On Nonprofit Boards?

A board of directors is a legally-designated decision-making body in a nonprofit, nongovernmental organization that is charged with establishing and maintaining an organization. They set the goals and objectives of the organization and maintain the authority to govern the organization throughout its existence.

Can youth participate in nonprofit boards of directors? It depends. In the United States the right for youth to create or participate in the boards of directors is made at the state level, so that what holds true in California may not be the same in Florida, and so forth.

In 2007 I co-authored a book with Youth On Board out of Boston called “15 Points To Successfully Involving Young People In Decision-Making.” In that book there is a table (pp 113-114) that provides a state-by-state analysis of the laws that effect youth involvement on boards. Eight of 50 US states disallow people under 18 from being on their boards of directors. In the other 42 states there is no specific age for directors specified in state law. Nine different states disallow young people from incorporating nonprofit organizations.

Want to know more about your state? Ask me specifically, or buy a copy of the book for yourself.

CommonAction is available to train, speak, and share about this topic and many others. Contact me to talk about the possibilities by emailing or calling (360)489-9680.

Written by Adam Fletcher, this article was originally posted to Learn more at!

Published by Adam

For almost two decades, Adam F. C. Fletcher has led international outreach focused on engaging people successfully. Working with thousands of youth-serving nonprofits, K-12 schools, government agencies, international NGOs and other organizations around the world, his work spans the fields of education, public health, economic development and social services, and includes professional development, public speaking, publishing, social media and more. He founded the Freechild Institute for Youth Engagement, SoundOut and CommonAction, as well as writing more than 50 publications and 500 articles. He has also established 150-plus community empowerment projects.

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