Let’s say your organization has identified a strong board prospect. You’ve taken some key next steps to further engage them in your mission and you’re ready to discuss board service. Congratulations! The stage you are in right now is a lot like being on a job interview, and you need to remember the old adage: interview them as much as they are interviewing you.
So what kind of questions do you need to ask them? Here are 10 questions you can (and should) ask every prospective board member:
By the same token, you should be prepared for your prospective board member to ask you some critical questions too! 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.
As you interview the potential board members, elaborate upon the opportunity and rewards of service. Be genuine when you discuss the support board members receive. Don’t be tempted to downplay your expectations to recruit a noncommittal “big name” board member.
While you may have taken the proper steps to vet potential members on the front end, there will be times when a board member simply isn’t the right fit. So you might want to try someone out before making the commitment. There are lots of meaningful ways for folks to leverage their engagement, support your organization and bring in more donors without occupying a board seat.
Traditionally, organizations have placed these individuals in a perpetual parking spot known as the “advisory board,” which is reserved for big name individuals who don’t have the willingness or capacity to serve on the board. Their names appear on the letterhead but other than receiving an annual report there is little interaction. Organizations are better served engaging with these individuals strategically to leverage their networks to widen the organization’s circle of friends. A great example of this is a Leadership Council where members commit to an annual gift amount of $2,000 and to bringing 25 individuals into the organization to experience its events or programs.
Another great solution is to test someone interested in board service with a committee role first, whether a short-term ad hoc committee or a standing committee. Both you and your committee member get to try-on service and make sure it’s a good fit for each of you before any appointment is made.
If so, here are two resources you won't want to miss...
In The Ultimate Guide to Building Your Board, we unpack fifty tips, ideas, and tools any nonprofit leader can use to build a board you can be proud of. Our team has also created a sample nonprofit board contract that you can adapt to your organization’s unique needs.
Our hope is that both resources will not only help establish expectations, but equip your board members to play an active role in moving your organization forward with their unique gifts, knowledge, and abilities.