October 15, 2018
10 Things

10 Things I Know About … Effectively serving on a nonprofit board

  1. Only serve on boards for organizations in which you are truly interested. It's easier to be engaged and useful when you genuinely care about the mission.
  2. Make sure you candidly discuss the time commitment and expectations before you agree to serve. Only accept the position if you can realistically balance the role with all of your other responsibilities.
  3. Do it for the right reasons. Always remember it's better to never sit on a board than to be known as a bad board member. Doing it for selfish reasons will always backfire.
  4. Attend the meetings and show up prepared. Read the materials beforehand. What good are you if you have no idea what's going on?
  5. Be an active participant. Ask questions. Speak up when you disagree. You are there to make sure the organization's mission and best interests are protected.
  6. Don't be afraid to vote against the majority. Rubber-stamping just because you are self-conscious is a you problem. Put your social fears aside for the good of the organization.
  7. Do not settle for doing the bare minimum. If a committee could use your skillset, join it. If the organization needs people to attend an event, do it.
  8. Do not overstep your role. You are not the CEO of the organization. You are there to ensure the organization's leaders are doing their jobs, not actually do the jobs yourself.
  9. Spread the organization's message at every opportunity you can outside of board meetings. Board members must be advocates, ambassadors and champions of their organizations.
  10. Gracefully step down from the position when the time is right. You will know when you have given all you can to the organization, and it's time for you to step aside for someone new.

AiVi is a partner at Worcester law firm of Bowditch & Dewey. She also is the chair of the board for the United Way of Central MA, vice chair of Worcester's Diversity and Inclusion Advisory Council, and a member of the Edward M. Kennedy Community Health Center Board.


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