Joining a non-profit board is an excellent idea – just know what you are getting into first. As a director – yes, when you are on a board of directors, you are a director – there are certain responsibilities and commitments that shouldn’t be taken lightly. Non-profit organizations are frequently dependent on their boards for guidance. Because the goal of the organization is most often to raise money for a cause, staffing is in short supply. Board positions are voluntary, thus, they become integral elements to the running of the non-profit.  It’s wonderful to be a volunteer and often rewarding. It is also time-consuming and can be costly, so be aware.

– Many, if not most, non-profit boards come with a price tag. There are many reasons for this, including the need for money, which is always part of the organization’s mantra, and the concept that if you pay for the position, you are truly committed.   Make sure you know the cost.   Understand that it may be annual, too.

– Inquire about obligations apart from attending board meetings. Definitely, attend board meetings! If you cannot commit to that most basic element of participation, withdraw. If you can, find out if other requirements come with the board membership. Must you sponsor an event? Do you need to bring in other members? What commandments must be followed to be a board member in good standing? How long is a board member’s term?

– It’s important that the organization carry insurance for its directors and officers. You need to protect your assets — actions that have serious consequences do happen, and you may have no control.

– Understand, appreciate and like the cause or mission of the group. You’ll find yourself much more involved and much more passionate if you know the essence of the organization and fully support it – emotionally, as well as financially and physically.

Joining a board is wonderful – you can help the organization, and the networking and interactions can also help you.   So absolutely do it – but do it knowledgeably.

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