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They are volunteers, too!
Look here for information and the latest techniques to develop your board or committee. The purpose is to help those who work or serve on nonprofit boards of directors or committees.

~ March 2006 ~ Topic

Why Does Anyone Want to Serve on a Board?

Recently I was teaching my board development class at Harper College in Palatine, Illinois, and outlining, as I always do, the duties of a board member. In addition to my thoughts, I always share a publication from the Illinois Attorney General that makes board member expectations quite clear.

One of my students looked at me quizzically and said, "in light of all this responsibility, why does anyone want to serve on a board?"

Well, we talked a bit about risk avoidance versus risk management and the fact that we use our intelligence to manage worthwhile risks every day.

However, the student's question does point out the importance of not joining a board without thinking it through carefully. For example, we need to ask ourselves such questions as:

  • Do I really believe in the mission of this organization?
  • Am I aware of some good things they have accomplished?
  • Have I reviewed their financial statement, their strategic plan and other materials? (These should be given to every prospective board member by the person recruiting them and, if not, the prospect should request them.)
  • Can I imagine asking some of my friends to give money to this organization?
  • Would I be willing to make an appropriate contribution to the organization?
  • Will my schedule permit me to attend meetings regularly?

If your answers to these and other questions are positive, you are in a good position to be a knowledgeable board member who will help monitor the organization and make sure it is operating in an effective and legal way. Thus it will be an experience from which you, as well as the organization, can learn and grow.

Other good sources for information on nonprofits, boards and committees:

Jeanne Bradner can be reached at Jeannebrad@aol.com.

See our online bookstore for Jeanne Bradner's book on boards: The Board Member’s Guide: A Beneficial Bestiary and Leading Volunteers for Results: Building Communities Today, and Passionate Volunteerism.
Board Member's Guide Image Leading Volunteers Book Image Passionate Volunteerism Book link to bookstore

Jeanne H. Bradner

Jeanne H. Bradner is an author, consultant, trainer and speaker on volunteerism, board development and leadership. She is the author of three publications, The Board Member's Guide, A Beneficial Bestiary and Leading Volunteers for Results: Building Communities Today and Passionate Volunteerism. She served as director of the Illinois Governor's Office of Voluntary Action, Midwest Regional Director of ACTION, and Executive Director of the Illinois Commission on Community Service. She is the volunteer program specialist for Illinois' Harper College Volunteer Management curriculum.

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