Serving on a nonprofit board presents great opportunities for meaningfully contributing to a worthy cause. But board service also involves significant responsibilities that may feel burdensome at times. How can current board leaders effectively equip newly-recruited board members for successful board service? In a nutshell, it’s all about a good fit, clear expectations, and safeguards.
A. Who is the right person for the job?
Nonprofit boards need leadership from individuals who share a passion for the organization’s mission. To help potential leaders understand this mission, make sure that the nonprofit’s corporate purpose statement clearly and accurately articulates the organization’s mission. Ask prospective board members to read the corporate purpose statement. Then ask them to consider the following question. Is this mission something that I believe in, and is it worth committing my best efforts?
B. What will be expected of board members?
Board leaders often speak in terms of “time, treasure, talents” or “wealth, wisdom, work” parameters. These phrases may be helpful to show that board members should expect to contribute some of their time, some of their money, and some of their skills or expertise. But better yet: develop a one or two-page “Board Expectations” document that helps new board members to understand more clearly how they are to contribute meaningfully. Also consider assigning seasoned board members to mentor new board members in their new responsibilities.
A “Board Expectations” document could include the following elements to inform new board members about their roles.