How To Be A Great Non-Profit Board Member


Over the last 20 years, I have served on dozens of non-profit boards at the state and local level. I have worked with nationally know organizations, such as Boys Scouts, Red Cross, United Way, and YMCA and numerous other local non-profit ministries and service organizations. I strongly believe in community service and realize the value of non-profits in community development. It could easily be said that the success of any non-profit is directly related to the strength of its board. Finding, training and keeping good board members is a critical part of non-profit leadership.

Here are my thoughts on what it takes to be a great non-profit board member:

  • Find out what’s expected of a board member – Preferably before agreeing to serve, know what is expected of board members and consider how the requirements fit with your schedule.
  • Live up to expectations – If you agree to serve, serve well.  Work the meetings into your schedule, participate in activities expected of board members, and fulfill the obligations expected of you.
  • Don’t micro-manage – You are there to advise and hold accountable, not to run the place.
  • Invest your strengths – You bring qualities to the board no one else has. Figure out why you are there and what your unique purpose is for the board and organization.
  • Be a connector – Use your network of connections for the good of the organization.
  • Ask good questions – You may be the only one who is thinking the way you are, but you may not be. You may regret not asking later.
  • Be willing to fundraise if part of the assignment – Remember, you are not asking for yourself, but for a cause in which you believe.
  • Don’t overstay your welcome -Most boards will have some board rotation, but do everyone a favor and leave when you lose enthusiasm to be effective and useful.
  • If the board agrees, find your replacement – Finding a good board member is hard for any non-profit.  Leave them well by helping them replace the spot you leave void.

What am I missing? What would you add to the list?

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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2 thoughts on “How To Be A Great Non-Profit Board Member

  1. I’d have to add: Don’t let your feelings get in the way – if you suggest something: an idea, a connection (be that a person, company or whatever) to help with an event, and the board decides to go another way, for whatever reason, don’t take it personally, because it’s most likely not.

    Most times the board is going to decide what is best for the organization as a whole, and while it’s GREAT to suggest connections you may have, you have to realize that it’s not always going to be the best fit for whatever reason.

    I’ve seen this happen A LOT on the board I’m on, and it’s very strange because it’s been the men who have gotten offended by this. One board member even left over it! I hate to generalize, but that seems like such a “girl” thing to do! HA! (I’m allowed to say that because I’m a girl, right?!)

    This is a great list! I may pass it on to our board of directors! :)
    .-= Renee Garcia´s last blog ..D is for Down Syndrome =-.