Be selective. Directors today are far more conscientious and cautious in accepting new board positions. Before joining a board, ensure that you understand the organization's business, its management team, the board structure, compensation plan, and time commitment.


Ask the Search Committee

  • What are the organization's major issues and needs?
  • What documents should I review?
  • How do you orient new directors?
  • Whom should/can I meet with? (independent directors, CEO, CFO, others)

Ask the Independent Directors

  • What is the organization's management style?
  • What is the culture of the board?
  • What is the current succession plan for executive management?
  • What external sources do you use for industry/company performance?
  • How much time do you spend with managers not on the board?

Ask the CEO

  • What do you hope I will contribute?
  • Can I see the last 3 board packages?
  • Over the next 3 years, what is the best - and worst - that can happen for the business?
  • Who is your most dangerous competitor - why?
  • What do you take to the board for approval?
  • What succession plan is in place for your position?
  • Is the organization engaged in any significant legal action?
  • Were there any significant accounting adjustments resulting from last year's audit?
  • Are there any major blocks of stock represented on the board? If so, what are their objectives?

Ask the CFO

  • What is your approach to the treatment of major accounting policies?
  • What is your level of interaction with the board?
  • What is the organization's relationship with its outside auditor?
  • How do you evaluate the Audit Committee's work?
  • How do you think my background would add to the board's effectiveness?
  • What is your evaluation of the board's understanding of the organization's financial statements?

Ask Yourself Before Joining a Non-Profit Board

  • Is this the right cause and organization for me?
  • Can I work with this organization and this board at this particular stage in its life?
  • What can I or will I contribute to this organization?
  • What do I want to get out of being on the board?