With the end of the year and holiday season approaching, many people focus on their charitable giving. Charitable giving is not just limited to donating money, though; many business professionals donate their time. A 2015 Robert Half survey found that 41 percent of U.S. professionals said they volunteered outside of work.

Volunteering has many rewards. Respondents indicated it helped improve their sense of well-being and effectiveness at the office, expand their network, develop new skills and enhance their ­company's visibility.

Serving on a nonprofit's board of directors is one way to give back to the community. Minnesota has more than 30,000 nonprofits, each governed by a volunteer board of directors. There is no lack of opportunities available.

While it can provide a great opportunity for personal growth, being a director at a nonprofit also comes with some key responsibilities. Directors are the stewards of public assets and are entrusted to protect them. Directors have various fiduciary responsibilities including the duty of care, loyalty and obedience.

Here's what these entail:

The duty of care requires directors to act in good faith and to make decisions they feel are in the best interests of the organization. A director must actively participate in governance of the organization, which includes attending meetings, reviewing the performance and compensation of its top official, exercising independent judgment and asking questions in order to make informed decisions.

A director should have a general knowledge of the organization's financials. How much knowledge depends on the size and needs of the group — with smaller organizations, a director who is the treasurer may also be its accountant whereas much larger organizations will have a person on staff who is the chief financial officer or ­controller.

Not only should a director have a general ­knowledge of the financials, but they should also ensure they are ­accurate. An independent audit is a means to accomplish this. Under Minnesota law, accounting records must be made available to directors who wish to inspect them for a proper purpose.

The duty of loyalty requires that the director be exclusively loyal to the organization. A director should not use his or her position to personally benefit or to benefit a family member. A director should always make decisions that would benefit the organization.

The duty of obedience stipulates that directors follow the organization's governing documents, carry out the organization's mission and assure its funds are used for lawful purposes. Directors also need to ensure compliance with proper state and federal laws.

Directors must ensure the organization is compliant with its filing requirements. Typically, this includes annually filing of Form 990 with the IRS, the annual charitable filing with the state attorney general's office and registration with the Secretary of State's office.

Nonprofits are exempt from paying income taxes, but they are subject to other forms of taxes like payroll and workers' compensation. In addition, if a nonprofit earns revenue from activities separate from its mission, it may be subject to unrelated business income taxes.

Directors should be familiar with their organization's governing documents. These documents provide the framework to help guide directors as they make decisions regarding the activities of the organization.

An effective manner in which nonprofit organizations accomplish this is with a board orientation or training for new directors. This is when new directors are given the organization's articles of incorporation, bylaws, codes of conduct, etc., to become familiar with the organization and how it achieves its mission.

Volunteering can be very fulfilling and rewarding. Serving on a nonprofit board not only provides gratification by giving back to the community, but it can also open the door to new opportunities or business connections. It can also be a significant commitment with a lot of responsibilities.

There are many online resources available to help understand the roles and responsibilities of board directors. The Minnesota attorney general, the IRS, Guidestar, and the Minnesota Council of Nonprofits are some that have useful information.

Marc Kotsonas is an officer at Mahoney Ulbrich Christiansen Russ in St. Paul. He leads the firm's nonprofit practice and can be reached at mkotsonas@mucr.com.