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Four Critical Questions You Need to Ask Before Joining a Board

At the end of every job interview, there comes a time when the interviewer asks: “Do you have any questions for us?” It’s no different when you’re interviewing for a position with a Board – and it’s an important chance for you to make sure the role is the right opportunity for you. Coming prepared with a list of questions indicates to the search committee that you have done your due diligence about the organization, and that you are genuinely interested in the prospective role, and the way that the organization operates. 

You’ll undoubtedly come up with questions during your conversation with the search committee, and you should have questions specific to your own goals and how they align with the role you’re interviewing for. Keep in mind that nonprofit Boards are volunteer positions. Why you want to give back to a particular organization is important, even if you are being recruited. But in case you get stuck, here are five questions to help distinguish yourself as someone who is serious about the opportunity to lend your expertise to the efforts of a Board: 

Question 1: What does success look like in this role? 

Asking this question is an excellent way to uncover both the long-term and short-term goals of the Board and to determine how you can best support them. Understanding their objectives and how they define success will allow you to make a more significant impact as a new Board member. Whether it involves increasing philanthropy efforts, spearheading strategic planning sessions, or leading a finance committee, understanding the role of (and vision for) the Board will help you align your skills and expertise with their specific needs—and help you discover if the opportunity is the right fit for you. 

Question 2: What is the organization’s overall approach and commitment to increasing Diversity, Equality, Inclusion and Belonging efforts? 

Diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging (DEIB) in the workplace are key to expanding and broadening perspectives and maximizing success. Discover how the organization is taking actionable steps toward increasing their efforts – and how those efforts are being addressed by the Board as well. If you find  there is no plan or process related to DEIB, take the opportunity to discuss how you can help them define and achieve their DEIB initiatives through inclusive policies.  

Question 3: Can you estimate the amount of time needed for this position? 

Actively engaging as a Board member requires time, effort, and dedication. Now is a wonderful opportunity to understand just how much (or how little) of your schedule you will need to allocate to help guide and provide effective oversight for the organization. Whether that means leading Board meetings, participating in stakeholder calls, or attending fundraising events—your time will naturally be of the essence. While some Board-related work requires more time than others, it is smart to realistically compare your schedule with the prospective responsibilities and opportunities offered by the role.

Question 4: How does the Board and executive leadership team work together to achieve the organization’s mission? 

In this crucial role, you’ll work closely with the executive leadership team to shape and uphold the organization’s mission, vision, and purpose. Understanding how the two parties work together today (and how they have worked together in the past) can give you a lot of insight into how you might approach building relationships and achieving your goals. A collaborative relationship with the executive leadership team fosters innovation and informed decision-making, ensuring everyone is aligned with the organization’s goals. Staying on the same page and working toward achieving a common goal plays a significant part in driving growth and impact—so it’s important to understand how this relationship works. 

Discover How We Can Help Inspire Purpose and Mission-Driven Organizations. 

DRiWaterstone Human Capital’s team has over 20 years of experience working with purpose and mission-driven clients, including nonprofits, foundations, associations, and social impact organizations to help them build high-performance teams and cultures. From initial outreach to job offer signing, we are there every step of the way to ensure a smooth and productive executive search experience.  

Learn more by booking a time with one of our amazing team members.  

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We are thrilled to welcome Courtney Bickert to the DRiWaterstone team as a Senior Consultant! 

With over 30 years of experience in international development and foreign affairs, she has a strong commitment to creating positive social impact through innovation, partnerships, ESG, and DEI (Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion). Having worked and traveled extensively across 100 countries, Courtney’s leadership spans sectors like public health, economic inclusion, agriculture, water, human rights, and more in both developed and developing economies.  

Throughout her career, she has found success in cultivating partnerships across governments, multilateral organizations, businesses, and non-profits, fostering collaboration for meaningful change. As a skilled consultant, she brings unparalleled expertise in identifying and placing top-tier talent to drive organizational success.  

Courtney holds an MBA/MPP from The University of Chicago. As a Senior Consultant, Courtney Bickert continues to shape a better world through her visionary leadership and profound expertise in executive search. 

Interested in working with Courtney? Get started today.

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