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Anyone on an Advisory Board for a nonprofit?

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I've been asked to join the Advisory Board for a nonprofit whose mission it is to protect women and children from human trafficking. Tomorrow I'll be talking to the founder of the organization. It's a passion area for me and I'm excited to be able to DO something about this issue. Any advice? What questions should I ask? TIA!

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I am on the Board of Directors for a statewide non-profit. Some organizations have a board that handles the business of the organization and a separate advisory board. Sometimes these are one in the same. I would ask about what you would be expected to commit to (meeting attendance, financial support, volunteer work, event participation, etc.) as well as liability - I would make sure the organization had liability insurance covering its board members. Depending on how familiar you already are with the organization, you may want to see the written mission statement as well as action plans, advocacy efforts, and partnerships to make sure their efforts are in line with what you agree with.

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I'm on the Board of Directors for a nonprofit that runs a large week-long summer event that is educational and religious. (SUUSI, for the other UUs out there.) I love it.


Questions I would ask:


What is the scope of activity for the Board, compared to the organization's staff? In my organization, the Board sets policies and thinks about the long term, and there's a core staff that makes the operating decisions and handles specific situations as they come up. If I wanted to be really hands-on in making day-to-day decisions, I wouldn't be happy on the Board.


Are the Board's recommendations to the nonprofit's staff considered to be directives or advice? What is the organizational relationship between the Board and the director?


Are Board members responsible for supporting the organization financially, either through specific amounts of fundraising or through direct contributions?


What is the commitment in terms of travel and meeting times? If Board members are required to travel to meetings, are their expenses covered? (On my Board, I travel to weekend-long meetings twice a year at the organization's expense, and am also expected to arrive one day early for the summer event itself.)

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I was on the Board of Directors for a local non-profit.


Ask about estimated time commitment per week and month. How many committees do they also expect you to join (we had to join at least two; leadership in those committees were likely)? How many times/week do committees meet?


Is there a time-intensive, long-term project the organization is working on? Strategic Plan? Buying new building? These types of projects can add hours per week.


Who else sits on the board? Is there a variety of professionals? Lawyer? Accountant? Teacher? Is there a variety of nationalities, religions? Our board/organization really benefited from diversity in thought etc.


Ask to see their by-laws and strategic plan. They should be up-to-date.


Hope it works out for you. It can be a truly rewarding experience.

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