Do what you would do if you were being offered a job with a company. The people offering you the board seat have apparently decided you have something they need. If you are wise, there are many things to do and many questions to ask before accepting the offer. Here are just a few:
- Why is there an open seat? What is the tenure of a board member? Did your predecessor retire out or where they asked to step off? It’s vital to understand the mood and environment of the organization.
- Call this 1.a – IN plain speak, understand the politics. And, don’t tell us there are no politics.
- Do you know the history of the organization? This would seem an odd question, but board frequently reach to other disciplines to broaden a board group think.
- Did you ask for written expectations for a board member? Are their goals reasonable and clear?
- Do you understand fully the relationship between the local or regional board and the national organization? What are the rules of the road in terms of regional control?
- Have you met all the current board members? It’s prudent to take up to three other board members to lunch or dinner. It is time well spent. As is attending a board meeting as a guest once or twice.
- Examine the amount of time your board duties will take. Enthusiasm wears thin and comradery becomes strained if you miss too many events and conference calls. Being a board member is a job, not a hobby.
These are just a few of the steps we see as being wise prior to joining a board. You have a skill or talent that could help an association. However, what may be your best contribution is bringing a unique perspective to the group. Just make sure you understand what you’re signing up for and what your role will be.