Giving Compass' Take:

• Here are some important considerations to account for when looking to join a nonprofit board and become a genuinely engaged board member. 

• How can donors be influential on nonprofit boards? What talents can you bring to the table? 

• Learn why the sector may benefit from new nonprofit board models. 

In most countries, non-profits are required to have a Board, whose stated purpose is to advise the founder/CEO, and to ensure that the organization abides by the laws of the land, and that it pursues its objectives as publicly stated.

Usually, founders start off by inviting friends and family members—people who trust them and can, in turn, be trusted. This is actually a good way to get started, because it allows the founder entrepreneurial freedom to test and innovate ways to move towards the organization’s vision.

As the organization evolves, the need for support begin to diversify. From purely compliance, the role of the Board changes to one that can handle other functions as well: fundraising, strategic guidance, M&E, program support, etc.

How to become an engaged board member
At this point, many founders will start to reach out to change the composition of their Boards. Some will, of course, continue to work with existing members.

If you have been approached to be on the Board of a non-profit (or actually any) organization, should you say “yes” because it is an honour bestowed on you? Hold on. Here are some questions you might want to ask before pressing that “Yes” button.

First, figure out things from your perspective.

  • What will I get from being on the Board?
  • Am I really suited for what the role needs?
  • What is the organization REALLY like?
  • Why have they invited me now?
  • What is expected of the Board?
  • Will someone monitor my contribution? (Hint: the answer should be “yes”)
  • Can I have the minutes of previous Board meetings?

Read the full article about joining a nonprofit board by Aarti Madhusudan at India Development Review.