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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 2008 ~

Who Belongs On the Board?

For the last 35-40 years in all the materials, books and papers on board development, we have hung on to the banner that all board members must “give, get or get off”. I would like to present some additional characteristics as we expand the numbers of board members and suggestions to help make your boards into dynamic community forces.

I am not suggesting that boards are not fiscally responsible for the agency or organization, what I am suggesting is that there are so many more characteristics to look for.

Everyone should look for is a member who “walks the talk”. One who understands the mission of the organization and puts their feet and hands into action. A person who is willing to fill in for staff serving meals, tutoring a child, or fill in at the after-school program. Involvement in the mission will make this board member understand the dynamics the staff face everyday and see the policies and financial reports in a different light.

Another option is to seek out someone (maybe a retired “’baby boomer”) who is experienced in the non-profit arena. Some may argue that we need more businessmen or women; that we need to operate more like a business. But if we honestly look at our work, we don’t make the widgets that we learned about in Economics 101, our “profits” are our community outcomes. Non-profits are different, we produce differently, we respond to community needs and demands in a different fashion. Yes, we pay our staff, pay our employer taxes, and manage our operating costs but we do operate in our own sector and we need advisors that have experience in our special sector. 

Passion is another characteristic that fits our world. If we don’t have someone on the team driving us with this excitement, it is easy to lose momentum and become a lackluster organization with an uninspiring board of directors. This passionate director may be the volunteer recruiter on the board that brings people and groups to the organization to volunteer on projects and initiatives, bringing new excitement to the activities and mission of the organization.

All three suggestions could add to the dynamics of any board. So many times, individuals shy away from board service because of the financial obligations. As with any executive director, I want my board to bring in more checks. However, not all can and when we eliminate someone because of the requirement to “write the check” we loose in the long run. Each of these suggestions, will ultimately bring better board engagement and a better organization.


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Gigi Rolfes is the Executive Director of Volunteer Macon. She received her Certification in Volunteer Administration in 2002. As a Commissioner on the Georgia Commission for National Service and Volunteerism, she represented volunteer centers in Georgia and this commission oversaw all AmeriCorps Programs in Georgia.

She is a Certified Trainer in the following areas: LeadershipPlenty,( Pew Charitable Trust) Volunteer Management, Recruitment and Retention, Supervising and Evaluating   Volunteers, ( Points of Light Foundation),Corporate  Volunteer Programs; Service Learning (CNCS)Volunteering in Low Income Communities, (Points of Light Foundation), Volunteer Reception Centers (Points of Light Foundation and CNCS), Strategic Planning and Leveraging Volunteers( Hands On Faculty, Hands On University).

Send your questions to Gigi Rolfes

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