So you want to join a board?

You love volunteering, but find yourself wanting to do more to help out.  Maybe you want to apply whatever professional expertise and experience  you possess to help further an organization’s mission. Maybe you want to hone your leadership skills in the process.   

Maybe you should think about sitting on a board.

 First of all, what is a board? The board of directors consists of a group of people who provide leadership and direction to an organization.Board members of nonprofit organizations are all volunteers.

Serving as a board member is perhaps one of the most challenging and rewarding of volunteer positions. Being appointed or elected to be part of a board requires a strong commitment of time, skills, and resources.

What do board members do? Whether it is legal expertise, financial know-how, a communications background, a knack for IT, or simply a passion for a cause, board members bring a wide variety of skills to the table. The ED may call upon board members for strategic advice. For instance, an accountant may be asked to provide financial reports and a human resource professional might provide advice on an employee benefits plan.  Before signing up to join a board, it is important to know what skills the board needs and whether you possess these skills or can acquire them at some point.

Duties of the board members:

  • Determine the organization’s mission and purpose
  • Hire, support and evaluate the Executive Director
  • Ensure effective organizational planning
  • Ensure adequate resources and monitor effective use of resources
  • Raise the organization’s profile
  • Ensure legal and ethical integrity and maintaining accountability
  • Recruit/orient new board members, and assess board performance

Joining a board requires commitment, so do your homework before embarking on your adventure as a brand new board member. Here are some basic questions a prospective board member must ask before joining an organization. 

About an organization:

  • When was it founded?
  • What is its mission?
  • Who does it serve?
  • Does it have a strategic plan?
  • Does it have bylaws?

About the board structure:

  • Who are the current board members?
  • Are there job descriptions for all positions?
  • How much time is required for board meetings, committee meetings, and special events?
  • What committees exist?
  • Does the organization have liability coverage for directors and officers?

About the financial status

  • Is the financial condition of the organization sound?
  • Does the board discuss and approve the annual budget?
  • What is the board’s role in fundraising?

Here’s a fun way to learn about boards! Check out Board Onboard *, an innovative & interactive guide to boards.  It has everything you need to know about boards and it even has a survey which will help you choose the right board opportunity for you! 

Can’t wait to jump into a board? Find out which organizations are actively seeking board members through the Volunteer Calgary website. Check out and type in “board” as your search keyword.

Good luck and we hope to welcome you a-board!

*Board Onboard was produced through the joint volunteer efforts of Emerge Learning and the entire talented cast and crew: Dave Kelly,  Kathy Shane, Gillian Wheatly, Stephanie McIntyre,  Brook Gibson!  Thank you, volunteers!


About Propellus

Propellus is a non-profit organization that has been empowering organizations since 1955. Through a dynamic range of consulting, training and member services, it helps organizations envision and realize new paths, practices and possibilities. Propellus guides, mentors and educates clients, arming them with tools and resources to help boost organizational effectiveness. Propellus strengthens organizations; in doing so, it leads the way toward building thriving communities.
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2 Responses to So you want to join a board?

  1. Pingback: Board OnBoard: free online orientation for aspiring board members | artrubicon

  2. Pingback: up the ladder | careerrookie

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