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How to Be a Better Nonprofit Board Member

Recently, I shared tips on creating a better nonprofit board. Click HERE for the link. Now, let’s look at it from the volunteer’s point of view.

People who choose to serve on boards of directors of nonprofit organizations do so with the best of intentions. They are usually confident, successful people who want to do the right thing and give back to their community. And, just as often, they have no idea what is involved in serving on a nonprofit board.

The role of the nominations or governance committee is to identify, cultivate and nominate the best slate of officers and members possible. They do this by asking their fellow board members for recommendations and they also use a board matrix to help them identify individuals who have the areas of expertise needed, such as attorneys, financial experts, or teachers.

They are also looking for people who have various connections in the community. While it’s helpful if the candidates have financial resources, that isn’t the priority. A diverse demographic makeup helps a board and the organization by having different perspectives on issues addressed by your nonprofit organization.

If you are the individual who is interested in serving, here are some points to consider:

  • Why do you want to volunteer to serve on a nonprofit board of directors?

  • What are the causes you are passionate about and who are the nonprofits that work in those areas?

  • Do a test drive and volunteer for an organization to learn more about them.

When you are approached to serve on a board, ask the following questions:

  • Why are you asking me?

  • Who else is on the board?

  • How long are the board terms?

  • What are the expectations for financial support?

  • What is the time commitment?

  • Does the organization have Directors and Officers (D&O) liability insurance?

You may also want to tour the facility, review their website and profiles in Guidestar and Charity Navigator.

Once you’ve joined:

  • Decide what a meaningful financial contribution is for you and consider becoming a monthly donor.

  • Serve on at least one committee and consider other volunteer opportunities.

  • Add all board and committee meetings for the year to your calendar.

  • Be prepared to fully engage in board and committee meetings.

Nonprofit organizations need people who are committed to serving their community. Thank you for your service to a deserving nonprofit.


Michelle Crim, CFRE

Dynamic Development Strategies can help. We offer coaching and fundraising services for our nonprofit clients. We specialize in startup and smaller nonprofits because we understand your challenges. Please contact us for more information.

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