It’s not uncommon for people to join nonprofit boards and then wonder what being on a board really means. We recently asked our board members to share the questions they wish they had asked when they first started serving on our board.
As a nonprofit center, part of our programs includes preparing our board members to serve Federated Charities but we also hope they leave our organization and continue to serve other community-based organizations. So there are no wrong questions and we can definitely help with the answers. If you serve on a board of directors in the community, there’s assistance from us…whether we come and speak to your organization or you attend one of our professional development events. Click here for more information.
How long are board terms? How many people make up a quorum?
Board terms are defined by the organization and as a new board member, you should definitely know how long a standard terms lasts. Quorum questions are frequently answered in the bylaws of an organization or are at least referenced there. Quorum indicates the minimum number of people who need to be present in order to cast a binding vote of the board of directors.
How do I know if the organization is making an impact in the community?
Because boards are the strategic guide for an organization, board members should ask themselves (and the staff) regularly about the impact of the organization. Boards should also self evaluate their own activities in relation to the strategic goals of the organization regularly. At Federated Charities, a board self assessment is taken on by the governance committee at least annually. In general, the board of directors should see reports at meetings that demonstrate the impact of the day to day activities and evaluate it in alignment with the mission and vision.
How does dialogue continue between meetings?
Board meetings are for action but boards of directors should be able to have conversations with one another between meetings. Committee meetings are great places for dialogue and the steps leading to action to take place. It’s also good practice to offer board members the opportunity (at meetings and outside of meetings) to get together and volunteer for an activity of the organization or just socialize and get to know one another. Strangers sitting around a table can certainly get things done but it’s much easier to make strategic decisions if everyone in board meetings has built relationships with one another. It is important to remember though that boards should act collectively…no one member makes decisions for nor acts independently from the rest of the board.