Question 1 – Do I have a passion for the organization’s mission?
Question 2 – Do I know enough about the organization?
Question 3 – Do I know what I’m supposed to do as a board member?
Question 4 – Do I know enough about governance?
Now it’s time to bring it on home. The next three questions are the proverbial time, treasure and talent questions. I’ll quickly address all three.
Question 5 – What will be my hourly commitment every month (time)? That’s a good question to ask. The answer has to be more than the 90 minutes for a monthly meeting. You will need to prepare for the meeting. You may have a committee assignment. And then there are usually a few other meetings during the year, and most certainly, some fundraisers. You may find yourself helping out on a project. Finally, there may be an annual retreat. So it really does take a commitment of time. And for that you are to be thanked.
Question 6 – What will be required of me financially (treasure)? It is expected that every board member will be a donor of record during the year. That should also mean generous, generous as is defined by your own particular situation. There will also be some fundraising. You will have to find out what that means — fundraising events, calling donors to say thank you, introducing friends to the organization, and maybe even asking for a contribution. Every organization is different about how they arrive at their “Give and get” formula.
Question 7 – What do I have to offer that is special (talent)? First, you offer your name. If it is a good one that carries with it a good reputation, that is significant. Second, you have your connections – to your business or professional world, community, service club, church, etc. Third, you come with some special gifts, talents, strengths, and abilities. Many of these can be used to make a difference to an organization as you choose to give of yourself.
Time, talent, treasure. Work, wisdom, wealth. However you say it, your answers are part of your special contribution as a board member.
Ask the seven questions. Then be sure you are satisfied with the answers. From there you go on to board service. Max De Pree said it well:
The opportunity to be a board member of a non-profit board is a special gift to us as persons seeking to grow and serve. It is also a special gift from us to society through the legions of organizations that are vehicles that make us a civilization. Seen in this light, membership on a governing board should never be taken lightly or accepted merely as an honor. It is a responsible and demanding job.