What Makes a Great Board Member?

An entrepreneur recently asked me to describe what makes a top board member. In a nutshell, good boards require board members with a wide network in the industry, a deep understanding in a particular issue or challenge as well as strong connections to the financial community. These are all important qualities, but they are not the only ones. A passion for the cause, the ability to listen, speak with humility and the willingness to go the extra mile are crucial to ensure that a board functions at its best.

A great nonprofit board is adamant about its mission and displays that passion in their actions. The board member is dedicated to helping the people they serve, whether it’s participating in fundraiser walks, volunteering at events or lobbying city legislators. This is a skill that is not taught and can make or break an organization.

Good judgment is a prerequisite for being a member of any board but it is more crucial for governance of nonprofits. A board that has a poor track record (whether it’s in hiring https://boardroomparty.com/5-characteristics-that-make-a-great-board-member/ and firing, or M&A transactions) is doing the organization a disservice. Good judgment requires experience, and typically comes from many tough decisions, a few blunders, and a lot of shrewdness.

The last trait that I believe is a requirement for successful board members is a sense of the importance of cooperation. The most successful board members realize that their success depends on their ability to work together, whether it’s at a board meeting or fundraising events. They take the time necessary to form coalitions with their fellow board members.

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