Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Tips on Choosing a Non-Profit Board

The end of the year always gets me thinking about board service.  It is when our board at Community Partners of Dallas turns over and we begin the dance of saying good-bye to wonderful volunteers and hello to new ones.  I absolutely LOVE it!  CPD has the best board members in town.

As you may know, I serve as the President and CEO of Community Partners of Dallas, a medium-sized non-profit agency helping abused and neglected children.  I work with our board members every day to make sure our agency is working to "stop the abuse and start the healing" for kids in Dallas County.  I have also served on many non-profit boards in Dallas County, so here are my quick tips if you are considering board service:

1.  Believe in the mission of the agency.
2.  Make sure that you have the time to serve -- you must attend the board meetings, committee meetings, all the events, etc.
3.  Be ready to support them financially with a personally meaningful gift.
4.  Commit to soliciting funding for the agency from your friends, family members, and colleagues.  If you are not willing to do this, just say no. 
5.  Be willing to participate in leadership if asked.

Prior to joining a board be sure to:

1.  Educate yourself about what is required of board members -- time, talent, treasure requirements.
2.  Take a tour of the agency and meet with the CEO/Executive Director.
3.  Check out the other board members. 
4.  Find out if you like the executive staff.
5.  Make sure that the agency has board insurance.
6.  Look at their most recent tax return and financial documents.

If you are interested in board service, call the agency!  There are many, many agencies that need you. 


  1. This is a wonderful list of tips. I've seen many not do their homework on both sides and let their egos get in the way. When skills meet a gap, it can be a wonderful thing. I'd also ask existing Board members if this is a working board or not. Often the staff can handle quite a bit and let the board steer the direction and fundraising. Good job!

  2. Thanks, John -- sorry that it took so long for me to respond to your kind comment. Your advice is sound, although another part of that question is what does the term "working Board" mean to you? I know that when I interviewed at CPD 10 years ago I was told that the agency had a "working board" -- I found it to be the same as all boards: some members work, some don't. Luckily, at CPD, I am blessed!

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