Ten Things You Must Know Before You Join A Nonprofit Board

Ten Things You Must Know Before You Join A Nonprofit Board

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Thursday, April 29, 2010 - 5:13pm


You certainly want to join the board of an organization where you find the mission meaningful. But be careful not to wind up in a situation that you will soon regret. You can save yourself and the nonprofit from a bad match by taking a few steps before committing to join a board.

Here are the ten things you need to know and do: 

  1. Meet with the organization's chief executive officer--sometimes referred to as the executive director. The CEO's effectiveness is essential to the organization's success, so getting a sense of the CEO is important. Additionally, the CEO is likely to have a say in who is selected for the board, so meeting is an opportunity for you to establish rapport. And, the CEO should be able to bring the organization's work to life and help give you insights into items 2-9 below.

  2. Understand the work of the organization and how it assesses its effectiveness. It's a good idea to visit at least one program site to see the program(s) and staff in action.

  3. Find out the size of the budget and the revenue model: what percentage of funding comes from government, fees for services, and philanthropy--corporations, foundations, and individuals. The CEO can describe this, and you can also see this for yourself on the organization's IRS 990 form.  When you know where the money comes from, or where it might be augmented, then you can better understand how the board can be useful to the CEO in building revenues.

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Korngold Consulting LLC assists corporations in building fully integrated, high-impact CSR strategies, including leadership development through nonprofit board service.  Korngold Consulting trains and places business executives on nonprofit boards, and consults to nonprofit boards and leaders to strengthen governance for financial and strategic success.