Have you ever found yourself wondering why one (or two or all…) of your board members is on your board at all?

Has this person (or people) missed multiple meetings? Not contributed during the meetings they’re at? Failed to raise a single dime for your organization? Haven’t recruited any new board members?

If this sounds familiar, then maybe you should do something to ensure this situation doesn’t happen again.

How could you do this?

Well, one way might be to create a little quiz that any person wanting to join your board would have to take before they were invited to join the organization.

If he or she passed the quiz, well then, welcome aboard! If he or she bombs, well then, thanks for playing. Here’s your parting gift…

So what would be on this test?

Here are some sample question that might be included on such a potential board member quiz.

1.)The primary role of a board member is to:
a. Brag about your position around town
b. Raise lots of money
c. Ensure the long term overall success of the organization
d. Keep the executive director in check

2.) If the executive director sends out a fundraising letter you don’t like, you should:
a. Call him up immediately and yell at him, making him feel terrible
b. Wait until the next board meeting to make him feel terrible
c. Call up the other board members in order to stage a coup
d. The next time you get a private moment with him/her, politely ask a question that could lead to an open conversation about the letter.

3.) True or False: A board member is expected to financially contribute to the organization to the best of his/her means. __________________

4.) Fill in the blank: A board member should feel _______________________ to ask his or her friends, family, and colleagues for financial contributions to the organization.

5.) Fill in the blank: Besides formal board meetings, a board member should expect to spend ____________ hours on average per week in service to the organization.

6.) Circle one: If the organization has a public function, it is optional/mandatory that I attend.

7.) True or False: It is permissible for me to discuss employee issues dealt with at board meetings with my spouse or business partner as long as they promise not to tell anyone else.

8.) True or False: If I see that an employee of our organization is providing sub-standard service to our customers, it is my obligation to correct that employee on the spot.

9.) True or False: The more non-profit boards I sit on, the better board member I will be, because it gives me lots of experience.

10.) Fill in the blank: The real reason I want to become a board member for this organization is that:

________________________________________________________________________

________________________________________________________________________

________________________________________________________________________

11.) Name three things that would be an acceptable reason to quit the board before the end of the stated term.

a) ______________________________________
b) ______________________________________
c) ______________________________________

12.) Number the following items in order of importance for you, as a potential board member (1 being most important, 10 being least important:

_____ Fundraising
_____ Showing up at organizational events
_____ Providing a professional service to the organization at greatly discounted rates
_____ Attending every single board meeting without fail
_____ Recruiting new board members
_____ Reviewing and instituting new policy initiatives
_____ Improving the organization’s marketing campaign
_____ Serving as a resource for the executive director
_____ Helping the organization to generate more earned income (like through programs offered)
_____ Other. Please detail: ________________________________________________

Of course, there are dozens of more questions I could have asked, but you get the point. With the right questions, you could get a sense of what this potential board member’s motivations are. You could also make a prediction about the person’s level of long-term commitment.

I have been in situations before where we thought a new board member would think and act in a certain direction, only to be surprised to find out we were wrong. Since board terms can last a long time and removing a board member for cause can be a sticky process, it’s wise to do as much background investigation and deliberation as possible before extending an invitation to join the board.

There’s a saying I once heard in reference to picking a suitable marriage partner, but I think it also applies to board members: “Marry in haste, repent in leisure.”

Do you have any suggestions for a Potential board member quiz? Please share them with us in the comments section! Thanks!

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Posted on 05 April 2011

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