Captioning–Press (Special Page)

"Our BoardAssist candidates have been amazing additions to our Board of Directors."

Executive Director, Good Shepherd Services.
Credit: Volunteers of America
helping individuals and families in need

You don’t need a trust fund or Roman numeral at the end of your name to serve on a nonprofit board

Surprising, but true.  You don’t need a trust fund or Roman numeral at the end of your name to serve on a nonprofit board.  Yes, most nonprofit boards do require an annual financial commitment from their board members, but in many cases, it’s a lot less than you might think. 

You don’t need a trust fund or Roman numeral at the end of your name to serve on a nonprofit board

For most nonprofit board members, your primary gift should always be the intellectual capital and energy you bring to your board responsibilities.  Nonprofit board matching services like BoardAssist work with nonprofit board candidates every day to ensure their candidates are matched with nonprofits that will truly value their intellectual capital above all else.  For those navigating the board matching process on their own, some important rules to follow to maximize the chances of finding a board where you can truly engage:

  • Ask the Executive Director to share examples of how three board members have contributed over the last 12 months, aside from raising capital.  If he or she cannot quickly tick off an answer, it might spell of trouble; three compelling examples should not be tough to come by.  If the response is that board members have donated computers from their office, or hosted “friendraisers,” it’s pretty likely this is a board where the trustees are primarily focused on capital generation, and may not be the best fit for you. 
  • Ask the nonprofit why they’re adding at this time.  Are they choosing to grow an already-large board? Typically, this is a sign that they’re adding primarily as a way of bringing in new funds. There are times when a sizable board will opt to add for the “right” reasons – perhaps several members are cycling off soon and the board wants to bring new trustees on in a controlled manner, or the board needs to address diversity or pick up a new skill set.  Do they need the elusive social media board member?  Or a lawyer or CPA if they are losing the current board member providing those services? 
  • Make sure you understand the historical board turnover rate. The biggest reason people leave boards is because they felt like an ATM machine, where their money was valued above all else.  If the board you are exploring has a high turnover rate, find out why.

For a full discussion of all the factors to consider before joining a nonprofit board, download BoardAssist’s book Giving Back. Want to know how much money people really give on nonprofit boards?  Read our 2018 Report on Nonprofit Giving. Board service can and should be incredibly rewarding.  It’s important, however, to be careful before signing on to ensure you are joining a board where you can truly engage.  Join a board!