About Board Membership

For Organizations Seeking Board Members

Board recruitment is like building a successful sports team. You need to attract and recruit the most talented players with the skills you need and you have to commit to providing them with the training that will encourage peak performance. That means a concentrated analysis of what expertise is needed as well as a willingness to give this potential board member what they are seeking from this relationship.

  • Do you have a job description, current policies and a contract that clearly spells out the legal and financial duties, the fundraising commitment, terms of service and obligations?
  • Are you honest in your dealings with candidates about what you expect or do you tiptoe around delicate issues like fundraising?
  • Are you honing in on someone because of their employer and not their personal credentials?

If all these factors aren’t in place, you are doing a disservice to both your organization and prospective board members and are on a path for disappointment.

For Individuals Seeking Board Membership:

If you are thinking about joining a nonprofit board, approach it with the same professionalism that you would a job search –understand the roles, responsibilities and expectations and what you have – and are willing -- to offer. While passion for the mission is the key ingredient, meaningful board membership is so much more.

There are entire courses about becoming an effective board member (in fact, The Nonprofit Center presents them), but in this limited space we can only give you key phrases to seriously consider:

  • Know the organization (research it on Guidestar, read the audit and the annual report and ask questions)
  • Ask about what kind of orientation or training board members receive
  • Ask to see a job description (do they have one?)
  • Ask about D&O insurance
  • Does the board (and do you) understand that board govern, not manage day-to-day operations
  • What’s the meeting schedule and policy, committee structure?
  • Understand the meaning of board accountability – from employment laws, to finances legal obligations and liabilities
  • Are you willing to support the organization financially as per a written agreement, or absent such a formal agreement, to a degree that is meaningful for you? And does the rest of the board do so?

Note: This site is a starting point for potential board matches which still require the same due diligence process you utilize for all board recruitment

From the blog

Making the Band-Aid Stick

Posted by Laura Otten, Ph.D., Director on 11 October 2019, 11:18 am

One of the enjoyable debates I have with students, and those who are philanthropically minded, is about addressing root causes vs. applying band-aids.  It often flows from a mention of Andrew Carnegie and his philosophy on giving and the responsibilities of the wealthy, much of which is laid out in his “The Gospel of Wealth.”  His thinking makes it easy to jump to the question of whether to fund organizations that work at eradicating the root causes of society’s problems or those that provide band-aids to treat the consequences of those problems. I would argue that there is no right.

Read the full post.