This is a blog post for those of us who have been asked to consider being a board member (director) on a board. For those of you experienced with boards and what that entails, you may find this post elementary given your years of experience, but if your new to this type of role, you’ll likely find this helpful.
Here are some questions to both ask and consider before you answer:
- Why does this board exist? The reason for a board’s existence matters! It will be critical for you to know whether or not the current board has clarity on why they exist in the first place. And no, their reason for existence is not the organization’s mission statement, a board serves a purpose. To be fair, not all boards understand this, but for a board to be fruitful, they must understand, articulate, and live their mission.
- What type of board is it that you’re being asked to be a part of? Is it a governing board, a working board, a management board, another type of board? Get to know the differences. Knowing helps you make an informed decision.
- What are the mission, vision, and values of the organization you are being asked to serve? Can you be in alignment with these? If not, say no immediately! The organization needs people who are in alignment.
- Do I understand the role of a board member and the board’s responsibilities?
- What needs does the current board have, and what skill set(s) is the current board looking for? Once you figure that out, ask yourself if you have what they’re looking for. It is never helpful on a board to have people who all have the same gift set. The goal on any board is to have the right kinds of gifts so that together, as a group, there is richer wisdom because of the diversity and experience.
- What kind of board development opportunities are available for and accessible to board members, and is the board serious about its growth and development? How have they actionably demonstrated that?
- How often does the board meet? How much time is required, approximately, for a member to be well prepared for a meeting?
- Aside from board meetings, what other types of meetings or functions are board members encouraged/expected to attend? Is this doable for you?
- What other questions might you add? Might you request to sit in on a meeting or two to get a feel for the current dynamics?
I have a growing passion for board governance, board development, and board excellence, which started in my first year of serving on board and continues to this day in my current study of board governance.
My experience is limited to not for profit organizations where board members are all volunteers, and these are all questions I wish someone had told me to ask before I said my first yes. I hope these questions empower you in your decision-making journey.
If you have questions you’d add to my above list, please put them in a comment below.