Questions to Ask if You’re Asked to be a Nonprofit Board Member

So your favorite nonprofit organization just approached you to serve on their board of directors. For you first timers, a seasoned nonprofit board member would tell you to take a breath before you say, “yes.” Sure you’re flattered, but before you make the commitment, there are a few things you should ask before your nonprofit work turns into a burden. Here are questions you should ask of a nonprofit before jumping on board.

Why me?
Surely you’ve been targeted for a specific skill set that you could bring to their nonprofit board. Maybe it’s accounting, marketing or law. Maybe you’re well connected and have access to deep pocketbooks. Whatever the case, if the nonprofit can’t identify a reason—or if the they want you for something you don’t want to give—just keep volunteering in your current capacity.

Show me the money.
Ask to see the financials of the nonprofit organization. Understand where they receive their funding. What is their major fundraising activity? Find out the financial history of the organization. Are they flush with cash or barely scraping by? All of this should be made available to you. It’s okay if the nonprofit has been struggling, but make sure you’re up to the challenge of helping them out of their current situation—and that they have insurance to protect your personal finances.

Great expectations.
Certainly every nonprofit board has a set of expectations of its board members. Know what you’re getting into. How long do you serve as a board member? How many committees must you serve on? When are the meetings and how many must you attend? What other events of the organization will you be expected to show your face? Does the board get involved in the day-to-day of the organization? If you’re satisfied with their answers, then you’re ready to serve.

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