Prepare Your Next New Board Member

Ann Fitzgerald President AC Fitzgerald author

Ann C. Fitzgerald, President

The value of building a strong, engaged nonprofit board of directors cannot be understated.
This governing body provides guidance, oversight and financial resources. It builds your group’s visibility and credibility among key constituencies, and it ensures compliance in legal and financial matters.

In order to attract the most capable individuals to serve on a board, a nonprofit CEO should anticipate the questions of potential new board members. The following questions were adapted from the Center for Nonprofit Leadership at Adelphi University.

Mission and Purpose

  • What is your organization’s mission?
  • How do its current programs relate to the mission?
  • Whom does the organization serve?

Board Structure

  • What is the composition of the board?
  • How big is the board and who is on it?
  • Are board members expected to serve on committees?
  • Is there a board retreat?
  • How long is a board member’s term?
  • What are the expectations for board members?


  • What is the organization’s financial condition?
  • How often do board members receive financial reports? Are they understandable?
  • Does the board discuss and approve the budget annually?
  • Does the organization have an independent auditor?

Strategic Planning

  • Does the organization have a strategic plan that is reviewed and evaluated on a regular basis?


  • Is there a specific expectation for an annual financial contribution from each board member? If so, how much?
  • What is expected of a board member in terms of fundraising? Solicit funds, attend fundraising events, identify and cultivate donors?
  • Are there events that board members are expected to attend?


  • Do board members sign conflict-of-interest forms annually?
  • Does the organization have directors and liability insurance?

Board Management

  • Are there descriptions of responsibilities for the board as a whole and individual board members?
  • Do board members receive a copy of the organization’s by-laws?
  • What kind of orientation and education is given to board members?
  • How will board members continue to learn about the organization?
  • How do board members interact with the staff and CEO?
  • How often does the board meet? Where? For how long?

Ann C. Fitzgerald is Founder and President of AC Fitzgerald, using her decades of experience in fundraising, management, leadership, and sales to help nonprofits build their capacity and achieve success. She is a sought-after speaker, writer, and advisor.

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