How New Nonprofit Board Members Can Be Effective
Dorri McWhorter reflects on the benefits of board service as the center launches the First 90 Days Nonprofit Board Toolkit.
- February 14, 2022
- Social Impact
“I view board members as catalyst to amplify the impact of the organization. Board members who approach their work as partners-in-change can help an organization become more successful.”
RC: You have served on several boards and chaired a few. Are there certain traits or qualities that you look for in a board member?
DM: If a board member can find ways to immerse themselves in the organization by attending events and learning about the organization, they can be highly valuable. Valuable board members are also inquisitive, open to learning about the sector and issue areas that the organization is trying to address.
RC: What about in the board’s leadership?
DM: Board leaders are making a significant commitment to the organization. They’re most effective when treating the leadership role as a partnership with the organization’s leaders.
RC: What are some of the most impactful things a board member can do?
DM: There are so many ways that a board member can be impactful. I view board members as catalyst to amplify the impact of the organization. Board members who approach their work as partners-in-change can help an organization become more successful.
RC: What does Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion mean to you as it relates to board service?
DM: At board level, it includes understanding how the organization is fulfilling its DEI commitments. But it also means ensuring that the board is mindful of new opportunities. For example, is DEI considered during committee and leadership opportunities? Is it considered during the board’s process to procure services to support the board? Boards should look for how they can include DEI specification when looking for services, such as strategic planning consulting and audit services.
RC: What words of advice do you have for new board members during their first few months on a board?
DM: LEARN. LEARN. LEARN. You can absolutely jump in and contribute right away; however, it is important that you are continually learning about the organization—its history, impact, evolution, operating model, strategy, the population it serves, and so much more. Also get to know the people within the organization as best you can. The executive director/CEO is an important contact, but the other leaders and staff are also essential to get to know.
RC: Why did you choose to be involved with the Rustandy Center’s suite of nonprofit strategy and governance programs?
DM: Creating a positive impact in the world is a high priority for me. The Rustandy Center’s approach to supporting nonprofits to become better organizations will absolutely help them create more impact in their communities. I want to be a part of advancing any effort that helps nonprofits do good. The center is leading the way by providing these organizations with the tools they need to accomplish their goals.