Good Governance: Big Things and Little Things

by Les Wallace, Ph.D.

Ask board members to use this checklist to gauge their understanding of their role

According to the 2012 BoardSource Nonprofit Survey, “40 percent of nonprofit board members don’t really understand what they are supposed to do.” Possibly your board has encountered this uncertainty among new board members.

You may already have a board member “job description” on your website including expected time commitments. You may also have posted a bibliography of relevant governance literature with which new board members should become familiar. This online information is becoming commonplace as is a list of competencies and backgrounds the organization is looking for in a new board member.

You might also wish to consider adding the checklist below, as an additional means of helping future board members seriously reflect upon their readiness and commitment to serve.

The little things:

I am willing to give the organization my best regardless of recognition or reward.

I am able to commit to at least 150 hours of board service annually without feeling burdened.

I am willing to commit to at least 24 hours a year developing my governance literacy and capabilities.

I understand business financial systems and can interpret a balance sheet.

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