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