Questions to Ask Before Joining a Board

If you are considering board service, do your due diligence. Learn as much as you can about the organization beforehand.


The board’s relationship to the staff

  • 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?
  • It may be beneficial for you to visit the organization and observe a program firsthand, if that’s a possibility.
  • Also ask about if the organization has a strategic plan that is reviewed and evaluated on a regular basis?

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 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 organization’s clients or constituencies

  • Whom does the organization serve?
  • Are these clients or constituencies satisfied with the organization?

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 donors?


101 Resource | Last updated: October 28, 2019