One of the main ways we give back to our communities is by sitting on the boards of non-profit organizations. Often, as CPAs, we are called upon for our financial expertise.
It usually starts like this. You’re at a BBQ with friends, and someone says, “You’re a CPA, right? We’ve got an opening for a Treasurer on the board of our new non-profit organization. You’re interested in (insert your favorite mission here), right? You’d be a perfect fit!!”
But is it really a match? While many decisions shouldn’t be made emotionally and as CPA’s we are trained to work analytically not psychologically – you do need to have a deep connection to the cause of the organization. It is important to ask yourself, does this cause move me so much that I want to be a catalyst for the change they aspire for?
Once you determine that this cause is one which you are passionate about there are some questions you should ask yourself honestly to ensure you can give the commitment necessary to fulfill your obligations:
· How formal or informal is the board?
· How long is my term?
· What is the style of this board?
a. Is it a “working” board where I am going to very hands-on; fulfilling a specific role? Is it an advisory board, where one gives input but not much else? Maybe it’s a combination of the two.
· How often and where are meetings held? Do we meet in person or via teleconference? How is
business conducted between meetings?
· How much time will I be expected to devote to board business?
· Is there an expectation of a specific donation to the organization? Some boards require a financial
commitment in addition to your service.
· Will I be expected to be engaged directly in fundraising?
· Is the organization financially healthy? Is the organization willing to disclose all of its financial
· Is there adequate Directors and Officers (D&O) insurance to protect board members in case of a lawsuit or other disaster?
When you find a board that is a good fit with your personality and values, it will be easy to do everything you can to help the organization achieve success. I read this quote that summed it up: “Volunteers are not paid – not because they are worthless, but because they are priceless.”
-Beth Vough, CPA, Manager