Advice from a CEO to New Board Members

Contributed by:  Sal Mondelli, President & CEO, 360 CommunitiesSal Mondelli Board Photo

I have been CEO of 360 Communities, a social services not-for-profit agency serving over 17,000 individuals per year in Dakota County, for more than three years. This is my first opportunity running a not-for-profit after serving on not-for-profit boards for 25 years. The work is not any easier than running a for-profit company, but when you see and hear stories about helping people in need, the results are extremely rewarding.

Here are a few suggestions for anyone contemplating joining a not-for-profit board:

Passion about the Work

Be involved in something that you are passionate about and can support wholeheartedly. Don’t be afraid to try something that is outside of your comfort zone. Research the work that the agency does and don’t be afraid to ask about expectations and responsibilities of a board member.

Commit and Make it a Priority

Ensure that you have the time to commit to attending board and committee meetings, as well as events. If the schedule doesn’t work for you right now, consider volunteering on a committee until you do have the time. Don’t be afraid to say “no” upfront if you cannot make the commitment.

Educate Yourself

Get to know the Mission, Values, and Strategy of the agency. Some offer a complex set of services that will take some time to understand. Learn the “elevator pitch” and understand the fundraising expectations.

Understand the Difference between Governance and Operations

As a board member you are responsible for strategic, financial, and compliance issues – different from operational details required at your “day job”. Be a value-added partner to the CEO and ensure that there is a level of transparency that offers easy dialog between all board members.

Enjoy Yourself and Have Fun

This will be work but it shouldn’t be drudgery. Remember the huge difference you are making in a number of people’s lives