Questions to Ask Before Joining a Board
If you are considering board service, be sure to do your due diligence.
The board’s relationship to the staff
- Does the board have a practice of annually assessing the chief executive’s performance?
- Is the board satisfied with the performance of the executive staff?
- How do board members and senior staff typically work with each other?
The organization’s programs
- How do current programs relate to the mission and purpose of the organization?
- Does the organization have a strategic plan that is reviewed and evaluated on a regular basis?
- It may be beneficial for you to visit the organization and observe a program firsthand, if that’s a possibility.
The structure of the board
- How is the board structured?
- Are there descriptions of the responsibilities of the board as a whole and of individual board members? Are there descriptions of board committee functions and responsibilities?
- Who are the board members? Is the board populated in a way that ensures that it has the skills, connections, and relationships to the communities the organization serves to instill trust and confidence?
- Is there a system of checks and balances to prevent conflicts of interest between board members and the organization?
- Does the organization have directors’ and officers’ liability coverage?
The community the organization serves
- Whom does the organization serve? What evidence is there that the community is being well-served by the organization?
- How does the organization request and incorporate feedback from program participants?
- How does the organization ensure that the community it serves is represented in decision-making at the board level?
The organization’s financial status
- Is the financial condition of the organization sound?
- Does the board discuss and approve the annual budget?
- How often do board members receive financial reports?
- Can you see the organization’s three most recent Form 990s? (These are “tax returns” for nonprofit, tax-exempt organizations.)
Individual board members’ responsibilities
- How does the organization see you contributing as a board member?
- How much time will be required for meetings and special events?
- How are committee assignments made?
- How will you be oriented to the organization and to the responsibilities of board service? Does the organization provide opportunities for board development and education?
- What is the board’s role in fundraising? Will you be expected to make a specific annual financial contribution? What role will you play in soliciting support from others?
101 Resource | Last updated: March 24, 2022