To be or not to be: Accepting a position on a nonprofit board
What in the world was I thinking??? I have no time whatsoever to do this! I barely have enough time to get to work and see my family, let alone adding a directorship on a nonprofit board!
Does this sound familiar? Sadly enough, I must say I've "been there, done that!"
Accepting a position on a nonprofit board is certainly a commitment to be taken seriously. It is a very important consideration to ponder before decision is made whether to accept or decline. All too often, a person will accept a position feeling flattered and honored but without a full understanding of the demands of that commitment until its too late. How good such a position would look on your resume is not a good reason to join a nonprofit board.
Time and time again we have seen board seats taken up by ineffective "occupants" who rarely attend meetings and have never donated their time or money to further the cause to which they've lent their names and support. Of course there are those prominent names that whatever their involvement, look good on a board roster. Personally, I would rather see a board comprised of hard workers who donate both time and money to their cause rather than one made up of only recognizable names. Of course, there are those "names" who give tirelessly of their time and /or money. Realizing how important this commitment is, the following should be taken into consideration when making the decision whether to accept a board position.
Do You Believe in the Mission?
You must first and foremost evaluate your commitment and belief in the mission and goals of the organization that you are considering. Is this cause something that you are passionate about? Does this organization truly make an important difference in the community?
Are you Well Informed?
As a board member, you will be an important link to the community, as well as the media. You will have to gather support from community leaders and represent your organization in a wide variety of ways. Because you must be able to think creatively and spontaneously when answering questions, it is important to be well informed about the organization's mission, background, programs and services. Can you clearly articulate the goals of your organization?
Can You Give the Necessary Time and Responsibility?
Sitting on a board does not mean just sitting there like a bump on a log. Serving on committees and taking on special duties are "musts" to be a conscientious board member. Attending board meetings and special events, dealing with personnel, development of an annual budget, meeting with community leaders to enlighten or raise funds, and making personal contributions are all part of the duties of a board member. Can you take responsibility for the promises you make on a given assignment? Do you have the time to open doors in the community? Sitting on a board will take time away from your family and other activities. Are you willing to give this organization the time and expertise that you have to offer?
Can You Make a Financial Commitment?
Raising funds and cultivating contacts are duties every board member must perform. Board members must make personal financial contributions to their organization. After all, if the board itself doesn't give, how can it expect the community to give?
It is important to remember that what makes America special is our great capacity to give, both of our time and of our resources.