6 Questions to Ask Before You Join a Nonprofit Board

Ask the Governance Guru

Part 3 in a series of governance posts

As a nonprofit executive director or board chair, you should be prepared for your prospective board member to ask you some critical questions. They may ask about the board’s weaknesses, what your expectations are, and what makes your organization unique. Below are some questions you want to be able to answer about the organization.

6 Questions to Ask Before You Join a Nonprofit Board

  1. Who is on the board now? How did they get there?
  2. How long are the terms?
  3. What committees exist? Who is on them? Are they active?
  4. What is the organization’s financial situation?What is the annual operating budget? What are the top revenue streams and the largest expense categories? Is there a deficit? Does the organization have an annual audit and has it consistently been in good standing? Are there any outstanding legal issues going on with the agency?
  5. What are the expectations of board members?Are there written expectations as to financial commitment, involvement in fundraising, meeting attendance?
  6. What does the board leadership look like? Does the board include members who are eager and capable of moving into new leadership roles on the board?

Be honest in answering these questions. Be clear about the commitment and any weaknesses that the board can help address. It is important that relationships with all board members is based on transparency and open communication.

About Susan Suarez

I am a nonprofit management and fundraising consultant. I have 30 years experience in the philanthropic sector including senior level positions in management, fundraising and grantmaking. I started consulting in 2003, working with local nonprofits and with community foundations nationally. My experience as Executive Director of Eden Autism Services Florida, President of the Community Foundation of Collier County, Vice President of Marketing and Development for the Community Foundation Silicon Valley, and Development Director for the American Red Cross in Palo Alto, CA provides a deep background in philanthropy and management to benefit my clients.
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