On our last visit I offered the question for you,” Do I have a passion for the organization’s mission?” That’s where it all begins. If through your past involvements, experiences, and interests you can answer yes, then you are ready for the second question.
Do I know enough about the organization?
You understand the mission. How does the organization deliver on that? What programs do they offer? Where do they serve? Are they effective? These are still mission-related questions, but you are now getting inside the organization.
It would be good to know how they are funded. What percentage of the budget is earned from programs, contracts, and fees?.” And what percentage comes from donors? Besides that, it would be a good idea to look at their financials, ask some questions, and determine if the organization is a going concern. If it is not, are you up for the challenge? Some people thrive on a challenge.
You might also want to know where they are headed. Do they have an executive summary of a strategic plan you could look at? It will tell you a lot. And it may inspire some specific questions to ask of the person talking to you about serving on the board.
Finally, try this. Are there any big issues facing the organization right now? Economic challenges? A change of leadership? A major capital campaign? Changes in the wind in their particular nonprofit sector? This is the stuff you ought to know about.
Satisfied? Join me next time for questions 3 and 4.
For more information be sure to check out my book Board Essentials: 12 Best Practices of Nonprofit Boards