Homeless youth

Homeless youth
People we don't see.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

So you want to join a non-profit board?

Throughout the years I have been incredibly grateful to work on and with several non-profit boards. After a few conversations recently with colleagues in the professional world as well as a couple of friends regarding joining a board, I decided to write this blog post. I hope it is helpful to anyone considering joining a non-profit board of directors.

Here are a few things to consider before joining a board:

Have a passion for the cause. If you are on a board, most likely you will be asked to not only fundraise for the non-profit but to also be a cheerleader for them. It's vital that you have a passion for their mission.

Check out the days and times that the board meets and make sure you can make it to the meetings. Meeting attendance is important as that is when the action of the board takes place. It's also your opportunity to meet other board members and see where else you might be able to use your talents for the non-profit. Finally, board meeting attendance is important when it comes to grants for the on-profit as many granting organizations ask for the attendance percentages of the board and consider that percentage when deciding on grants.

While talking about meetings, you may also be asked to join a committee of the board, like finance or development. These committees will take even more of your time, time that will be well served. Keep this in mind before committing. 

Have a clear knowledge of expected giving and know that you can afford that (and be willing to make that kind of financial commitment to the organization). This is crucial. Most boards have a giving requirement. Sometimes it is give and get, meaning the total number includes what you yourself can donate and/or bring in through others donating. It's important to be comfortable with the amount that is required aside from any other amounts of money you may give to the organization, say for tickets to an event or a table at the annual Gala. When fundraising plans are developed board giving is typically one line and event revenue another. Keep this in mind when deciding whether or not you can personally afford to be on the board.

Ask yourself why you want to be on the board. I have seen many people who serve on several boards and wonder why. I also wonder how much commitment can they seriously give to so many organizations and how effective can they be to each of those organizations. If you have passion for a group, wonderful. If you want to look good or add something to your resume, make sure you can bring something to the organization, and I mean more that a check or attendance at a few meetings.

Non-profit organizations can thrive with an active, fundraising and effective board filled with members who have passion and skills. Make sure you can bring 100% to them before you commit. This will make your experience on the board more fulfilling and at the same time strengthen the non-profit.

Thank you for reading! 

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