What is the most important detail in asking someone to be on a BOD for a non-profit?

New non-profit with very little funding.


For background, I'm an active board member for two charities, am a past board member of CIRA (which runs the .CA domain) and am a graduate non-profit governance essentials course from the Institute of Corporate Directors.

I also built Canada's first crowdfunding website that distributed over $3m to charities from over 115,000 members and in the process interacted with literally hundreds of charities on social media and cause marketing.

Every board member needs to be willing and able to raise funds. I believe that every board member of a small non-profit (less than $250,000 in operating budget) should be able to raise at least 10% of the annual budget.

Also important is values alignment ensuring that the board member understands and agrees with what the organization stands for.

Finally, as much as is possible, ensure that each board member brings a missing skillset. Social Media competency in one, accounting in the other, for example.

Final piece of advice is that good board members should be hard to get. The commitment of time and energy is significant and so therefore, anyone who is willing to join without much convincing or discussion is probably someone who isn't going to be prepared to do the heavy lifting.

Happy to talk to you in a call about board composition or anything else. I have a huge passion for helping the non-profit sector and especially grassroots organizations like yours.

Answered 9 years ago

I believe the most important detail in asking someone to be a board of director for your organization is to make sure that their immediate level of commitment is where you need it or expect it to be.

In choosing a BOD they need to be active in whatever area they are creative and that most benefits the organization. You may have those BOD's that are there for guidance and counseling, but for those who are on board and are with your mission 85% - 100%, then you should have expectations, requirements that tap into their trait, quality, or talent and utilize their uniqueness to build your organization.

I hope this information has been helpful? Please give me a call to further your plans to build your non-profit. I also work with others who can assist you with fundraising ideas!


Carmen Forge
Fast501c3, Inc.

Answered 9 years ago

If the nonprofit is new, the most important question to ask is: "Do we need to exist as a separate nonprofit?"

There are more than 1.2 million nonprofits around the country. There is tremendous duplication of services. I would strongly advise you to pursue a strategy such as:
1. Partner with a strong and stable 501(c)(3) to become a program underneath them; they can handle the back office stuff, and you focus on delivering your service and raising money. Your board can then be an advisory board/committee of their governing board, which is much easier to setup and easier to recruit for.

2. Setting up the charity as a designated fund at a community foundation. This is similar to the above scenario, but you likely have much more control over back office stuff.

However, if you are dead set on opening your own 501c3, there are a few things to look for in board members:

1. In the beginning, most boards are "working boards" (i.e. they do many of the duties of staff members). Therefore, targeting prominent society figures is likely not a good fit. You need people willing to roll up their sleeves and do the work. And therefore you need a variety of talents: someone to help with financials, someone to help with setting up the internal tracking systems for donors/clients/etc, someone to help with policies and procedures, and someone (or several people!) to help with fundraising.

2. They need to have a very clear understanding of their role. You should have job descriptions that clearly outline expectations, including how much they need to donate and serve (and they MUST be willing to do both .... donors give cash, volunteers give time and board members give both).

3. They need to be willing to help raise money. This does not necessarily mean calling friends for cash, but they need to be willing to fill a table at your launch event and invite people to go on tours/meetings with the ED. Above all, they need to NEVER apologize for the org's need for money. Inviting people to invest in a life-changing mission is a privilege, and they need to understand that.

Good luck!

Answered 9 years ago

To find the most important detail in asking someone to be on a BOD for a non-profit you must ask the following questions:
1. What makes our mission meaningful to you?
2. What are some of your prior board leadership experiences?
3. What skills, connections, resources, and expertise do you have to offer and are willing to use on the behalf of the organization?
4. Do you have any worries or concerns about joining the board?
5. Do you have personal aspirations that could be enhanced by board service?
6. How much time a month can you commit to meetings and serving the mission?
7. What motivates you?
8. What are your expectations from the management of the non-profits where you have served as a board member?
9. Are you willing to make a financial commitment that is a stretch?
10. How important is socially interacting with other members?
Besides if you do have any questions give me a call:

Answered 2 years ago

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