Dear new nonprofit Board members,

Thank you for saying “yes” to serving on this Board!

Not everyone has the heart for Board work, and I applaud your willingness to give your time, your talents, and yourself to this very worthy cause as a nonprofit Board member.

There are several things you need to know to get the best experience possible from your time on this Board. I find that most people don’t know this stuff, and it can make a huge difference in making this a win-win for both you and the nonprofit.

And just to make this more fun, I’m going to share some of my favorite Dr. Seuss quotes to help you remember each one. new nonprofit Board members

Only you can control your future.  (Dr. Seuss) Set your intention for the experience you want. Get clear about what you want from your time on this Board. Are you looking to be of service or just feel good about the time you spend on the Board? Or is there something else?

Too many new nonprofit Board members sit back and wait for the organization’s leaders to make things fun and interesting.  I believe in controlling your own future, and if you know what you want, you’ll be more likely to get it.

Why fit in when you were born to stand out? (Dr. Seuss) Bring your gifts, talents, connections, and experiences to the table.  Don’t worry about fitting in with the group.  You’re here on this Board to help guide the organization, not to win a popularity contest, so don’t be afraid to ask questions, voice your opinion, and challenge status quo.

You won’t do the organization any good by blending in.

Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not. (Dr. Seuss) Remember to always put your passion for the organization’s mission at the forefront of all you say and do. By focusing on the best interest of the mission, you’ll be more likely to make the right decisions. It takes a balanced combination of passion, compassion, and wisdom to move the nonprofit in the right direction.

Today I shall behave as the day I will be remembered. (Dr. Seuss) When you come to a Board meeting, check your ego at the door.  This is not the place to make yourself look good or to gain power.  This is the place to use your head and your heart to serve the people in your community who need the services your nonprofit offers. When you’re finished with your Board service, you want to be remembered for all the good you do, not the problems you caused.

It is better to know how to learn than to know. (Dr. Seuss) It takes time to learn everything you need to know, so give yourself time to come up to speed. Attend meetings and learn all you can. Take the Executive Director or Board Chair to lunch to learn about the history of the nonprofit, the history of the Board, and the direction they want to see the nonprofit move in.

The more that you read, the more things you will know.  The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go. (Dr. Seuss) As new nonprofit Board members, be students of all things Board related. Never assume you know all you need to know to fulfill your Board role. Read up on how to be a good Board member and you’ll find that your experience is not only rewarding for you, but for the nonprofit and the community.

If you follow the timeless lessons in these six simple quotes, you’ll be in a position to provide outstanding service to the Board you serve on and the nonprofit your Board leads.

Enjoy your Board experience!