10 Questions to Ask Before Joining a Nonprofit Board

 By Randy Hain

“Why should I serve on this nonprofit board?” It’s the fundamental question we should ask ourselves before accepting a board position. Our time is stretched thin and free minutes are precious, so evaluate any extra time commitments with thoughtful discernment.

In my first board role more than 15 years ago, I was so excited to be invited that I didn’t ask many questions. I wasn’t aware there was a right and wrong to it. Even though the mission of the organization aligned with my passions and interests, I quickly learned that the nonprofit had a dysfunctional leadership team, a poor reputation in the community and they desperately needed me to help them raise money.

It was a painful lesson for me, but I learned from it.

If you are considering joining a nonprofit board, I recommend reviewing the following questions as part of the evaluation process:

  • What is the reputation of the organization in the community?
  • Is the leadership team effective?
  • Can I speak with references and existing board members?
  • How often does the board meet and what is the time commitment required of board members?
  • Does the board have D&O (Directors and Officers) insurance?
  • What will I have to sacrifice personally and professionally in order to give this organization what it requires of me?
  • Do my passions and interests align with the mission of the organization?
  • Will my skills and experiences help me be effective on the board?
  • Am I willing to champion the cause of this organization to my network and potentially ask for donations?
  • Is there a minimum personal donation required of board members?

I am a better person because I give time to serve nonprofits in our community. As I have gotten older, I’m keenly aware of what causes I am passionate about and what I have to offer. Asking the right questions made all the difference.

What motivates you about serving on a nonprofit board?


Randy Hain is the Managing Partner of Bell Oaks Executive Search in Atlanta and actively serves on a number of nonprofit boards in the Atlanta community. His new business book, Something More: The Professional’s Pursuit of a Meaningful Life (Foreword by NY Times best-selling author Chester Elton) will be available March 1st and can be pre-ordered on Amazon.



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