Many of us want to be more than a warm body in a chair when we serve on a nonprofit board. Here are thirteen questions to ask before you say yes:
- Why me & why now?
- Could I first join a committee? This will give you a better sense of how things are done.
- What skills & talents are needed? If they can”t tell you…
- How many open board seats need to be filled? Why are the seats open?
- How are the terms laid out? The most common is 2 3-year terms.
- What are the term limits? The most common is 6-years, if terms limit are enforced.
- How often do people step down before their term is up & why?
- What is expected of a board member as far as time, talent, treasure & contacts?
- How can I benefit by being involved? This is not a bad question. If you aren”t going to either learn something or meet new people why serve?
- In what areas does the board get bogged down in and/or what issues do they have trouble addressing?
- Does the executive director and/or founder serve as a voting member of the board? This means the only time you can have a discussion about the ED is in executive session. It can be uncomfortable.
- Do 100% of the directors make an annual contribution? What is the expected amount?
- Does the board conduct an annual evaluation of their overall and individual performance?
In a separate post I will discuss what documents you need to review before agreeing to serve. By asking these questions early you might prevent making a decision you will soon regret.
Susan C. Hammond, principal of scHammond Advisors , consults with nonprofits on board governance, strategic planning, improving financial intelligence, and the formation of advisory boards or councils. She is an advisor, coach, consultant and author. Susan recently published the Advisory Board Kit: A Comprehensive Guide to Establishing an Advisory Board.
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