Roles of SF Bicycle Coalition Board & the Board’s Endorsement Process

The SF Bicycle Coalition started as a handful of individuals who came together to push for better biking conditions. We have since grown to over 10,000 members, an annual budget of over $2,000,000, and 18 dedicated staff members, making the SF Bicycle Coalition one of the largest and most effective bicycle advocacy organizations in the country.   

As our organization has changed, so has the role of the Board of Directors. In the beginning, Board members functioned as very engaged volunteers, doing work that in a larger organization would be done by staff members. Now that we have a large and growing staff, the Board’s role has changed to one of governance and support.

Board members engage in the following work:

  • Reviewing and approving the annual operating budget and tracking revenues and expenses each month to the budget;
  • Fundraising to support the SF Bicycle Coalition operations;
  • Overseeing the annual financial audit and our tax filings;
  • Reviewing the performance of the Executive Director;
  • Ensuring we have good and legally sound HR policies;
  • Assisting the Executive Director and staff with strategic planning;
  • Ensuring we meet the legal requirements of 501(c)(3) and a 501(c)(4) organizations; and
  • Thinking through the intricacies of the political endorsement process.

Board members do not make decisions about where or how we conduct outreach, or what specific bike infrastructure projects the staff should address. These decisions are made by the staff under guidance of the Executive Director and in alignment with our Strategic Plan. Our amazing staff work on the ground every day with members, neighborhood groups, City departments and agencies, and local businesses to determine where opportunities exist to make progress and how best to take advantage of them.

Furthermore, the Board acts as a group, not as individuals. The Board works through committees, (e.g., Finance, Audit, Personnel, Fundraising, Executive, Membership and Board Development) and as a whole at monthly Board meetings.  

Accordingly, we focus on recruiting and endorsing Board candidates who will effectively collaborate and communicate with other Board members and the Executive Director, have a passion for bicycling, and have expertise in specific areas related to the Board’s role and responsibilities. Specifically, we seek individuals with expertise in finance/accounting, law, fundraising, HR, nonprofit management and strategic planning, as well as individuals who understand the complexities and legal duties involved in sitting on the Board of a larger organization, especially one that makes political endorsements. Finally, we strive to have a diverse Board that represents a variety of members, perspectives and connections for the organization. As a result, the Board endorses nominees it believes have the necessary skills to assist the Board in governing and supporting the SF Bicycle Coalition’s mission and strategic plan.

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