Category: Board Development

3 Tips for the First Time Board Member

By on April 10, 2014 under Board Development, Volunteerism

I recently joined the board of an all-volunteer organization. I was so excited to share my time and talents as I loved the mission of the organization and was ready to dive in and share my time and talents to advance the cause.  With Board Summit coming up in June, I thought I would share some tips for anyone thinking of taking the plunge and joining a board for the first time.

1. Build Trust – One of the first, most important lessons I learned was in order for our organization to provide a quality programs we needed to have shared trust throughout the group.  As a new board member contributing thoughts and ideas was great, but there was also a tension to build this trust with the rest of the group.  In my case, I didn’t have any previous connections with anyone on the board, just a mutual passion for the mission.  I had to understand that building trust would happen slowly.  Along with demonstrating my commitment to the organization, one thing that also helped build trust was understanding the expectations and norms of the group that were communicated during my orientation.  This helps both you and your organization understand the expectations and any policies around board participation.  If your board doesn’t have a formal on-boarding process you can find more resources on what should be included at our Board Essentials training.

2. Communication is Key - As I mentioned above, building trust was essential to the group and ultimately the progress of our mission.  Another key lesson I learned was that our organization needed to have transparency and communication was key to ensuring everyone was on the same page and moving towards the same goals.  If you’re new to the board ask lots of questions during board meetings to understand how the organization runs, if there are any policies that you need to know; understand what stakeholders are part of your organization and how you can best serve the needs of the organization.

3. Have fun! – Getting acclimated to a new group dynamic, learning a new set of processes and expectations, not to mention learning the organization’s lingo can be overwhelming at the start. In my case trying to understand the acronyms and groups of stakeholders was an accomplishment alone.  Be gracious with yourself; appreciate the process of building better programs and promoting your mission.  Enjoy working with a new circle of people and learning new skills.  Board service should be a fun outlet for you to give back to the community and share your talents and time.

If you’re not on a board yet, I hope you consider joining one.      We have a great list of open board positions on OnBoard.  And if you are a new board member and need additional resources, be sure to check out our Resource Library where you can find articles on best practices for board participation.

Do you have any other tips you would give first time board members?

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Ask Alanna: Serving on a Board

By on February 04, 2014 under Board Development, Volunteerism

Hi, I’m Alanna — Greenlights’ Services Coordinator. As a resource for nonprofit solutions, Dear_Alannawe receive daily questions from performing staff evaluations to grant writer referrals. This month I’m sharing feedback on getting more involved with the nonprofit sector and joining a board as we prepare for our upcoming Board Summit event on June 12.

I have worked with for-profits for twenty years but would like to get more involved with local nonprofits. I would love to help animals or underprivileged kids. I also have a lot of experience with event planning so I might be interested in serving on a board or gala committee. Does Greenlights have volunteer opportunities? If not, what are some ways I can get involved in the nonprofit sector and share my expertise? (continue reading…)

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4 Uncommon Books for the Nonprofit Leader

By on January 28, 2014 under Board Development, Leadership

Nonprofit Book

We’re almost a month into the new year, and though I’m never very successful at keeping my resolutions, I do make an annual booklist.  This year is no different and I thought I’d share a few unconventional recommendations for the nonprofit professional and board leader. (continue reading…)

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Is an Advisory Board Right for You?

By on November 06, 2013 under Board Development, Leadership


Robert Mankoff, The New Yorker

Is your nonprofit contemplating forming an advisory board?  Don’t rush the decision. In my work with nonprofit boards of directors, I’ve been getting questions lately about establishing advisory boards.

Setting up an advisory board is an attractive idea, on the surface.  A new group of people to raise awareness/funds/community goodwill!

But in my experience, advisory boards or councils often flounder or flop as much as they flourish. (continue reading…)

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Are you making it easy to be a board member?

By on September 19, 2013 under Board Development

Another installment of Greenlights’ video series on board development is now live in the 501(c)ommunity as an exclusive feature for our members, and I’m excited that I get to preview an important take-away here for our blog readers. This segment tackles the topic of board engagement and orientation, and one of my favorite recommendations is to remove obstacles to board member involvement:

The easier we can make it for board members to get involved, the more likely they will get involved, and the greater impact they will have for the organization. (continue reading…)

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