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Serve on a Nonprofit Board

Are you looking to make a difference in your community? BoardSource has developed this introduction and a 4 step learning experience to help you do just that.

Each year, millions of individuals dedicate their time and expertise to shape the future of nonprofit organizations through board service. Board members provide the critical intellectual capital and strategic resources to power nonprofit success and strengthen communities.

You could be one of those individuals

  • who are committed to sharing their time and talents to help make the world a better place
  • who have specialized skills and expertise that could benefit a nonprofit board’s work
  • who are willing to be enthusiastic advocates for an organization and encourage others to get involved

Serving on a board is a wonderful way to support a cause that you care about. But it also can be a powerful way to build your own skills and expertise. Individuals who serve on a board have the opportunity to

  • develop and grow as leaders and cultivate new skill sets
  • expand their network of peers, professionals, community leaders, and community thought leaders

To learn more about how board members and boards of directors can lead nonprofit organizations to great impact, view videos created by applicants for the Prudential Leadership Awards for Exceptional Nonprofit Boards.

Is Nonprofit Board Service Right for You?

Serving on a board can be an amazing experience, but it is also demanding. So, before joining a board, ask yourself if board service is right for you. Here are four common questions to consider:

  1. What type of experience is most fulfilling for you?
    Board service is a form of volunteerism that can have a huge impact on the organization, but if you think that your sense of personal fulfillment requires a more hands-on volunteer opportunity, you might want to inquire about direct-service volunteering opportunities in the organization instead of board service.
  2. How much time are you willing to put into board work?
    Board members are legally required to fulfill their fiduciary duties, which will require you to devote a considerable amount of time to the organization. The amount of time varies greatly by organization, but simply planning to attend the board meetings is not sufficient. Board members must be willing to regularly review financial statements and meeting materials, and many board members will need to prepare for and attend committee meetings in addition to board meetings.
  3. Are you willing to collaborate with others on a regular basis or would you prefer to work alone?
    Boards are teams of committed and engaged individuals who work together to govern the organization. If you prefer to work alone, then board service may not be the right way for you to work with the organization. Consider providing pro bono professional services or direct-service volunteering as alternatives to board service.
  4. Do you have the willingness and the ability to assist a nonprofit organization with fundraising?
    One of the primary responsibilities of the board is to ensure that the organization has adequate financial resources to carry out its mission. Many organizations have a fundraising policy for board members. These policies typically request board members to contribute personally. Commonly, these policies also stipulate that all board members participate in the organization’s fundraising effort in some fashion. Connections and introductions to donors, participation in fundraising events, personal notes on solicitation and thank-you letters, and direct solicitations are just a few of the ways in which board members can make a difference in terms of fundraising success. The amount of involvement in fundraising varies greatly by organization, but prior to serving on a board, make sure that you will be comfortable making a personal contribution and asking others to contribute to the organization.

After evaluating these four questions, take our readiness quiz to find out if you are ready and willing to serve on a board

How to get started in board service

Check out this free webinar:

Additional Resources

For more information about serving on a board, check out these additional resources:

Free Community Resources

Ready to serve on a board?

Follow these four steps to guide you through the recruitment process:

  1. Find Your Passion
  2. Locate an Open Position
  3. Connecting with the Nonprofit Board
  4. How to be a Great Board Member
find your passion