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?