Nonprofit Insurance Program

How to Be a Great Board Member

By Alexa Connelly
February 13, 2013

Have you been invited to join a board of directors for a nonprofit organization? This is an exciting opportunity to participate in a meaningful experience that can benefit not only the organization, but also its clients and community members.

If you want to be a great board member, keep in a mind a few simple guidelines.

1. Actively participate in board meetings. Missing meetings will keep you from fully understanding the organization or appreciating your role as a board member. Ask the board secretary for a list of upcoming meetings, if scheduled, and keep them on your roll-over calendar so you can prepare in advance. If you must be absent, find out if a substitute would be helpful, and then take steps to recruit someone who can take your place at the meeting. Follow up afterwards with your substitute for updates and new business items.

2. Participate in the nonprofit organization’s events. Fundraisers, meet-and-greets, and business activities are a great way to support the organization’s interests and support its causes. Consider volunteering to assist with setup, promotion, or clean-up of various programs. Taking a proactive role in the organization will make you an even more valuable and respected member of the board.

3. Promote the organization through personal and professional media. As a board of director’s nonprofit member, you may want to mention your affiliation in business social networks such as LinkedIn where you are a member. You can include your board membership in your resume, discuss it at business events, and mention it to neighbors and friends as a way of making others aware of the work the organization is doing to help others.

4. Research important organizational projects and issues. Use your professional expertise and business acumen to find helpful information about initiatives and concerns the organization may be dealing with. Recommend articles or books to bring other board members up to date on relevant issues. Network with other professionals who may be able to offer insight to the concerns faced by your organization.

Being tapped to become a board member is a privilege as well as a responsibility that should not be taken lightly. Be prepared to offer your perspective on agenda items and programs being brought for discussion. You were sought out because of your reputation and noteworthy qualities that are considered assets to the nonprofit organization, so plan to share these traits generously.

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