BLUE SPRINGS, Mo. — If you are ever asked to volunteer on an organization’s board, make sure you know what you’re getting into before saying yes,says a University of Missouri Extension community development specialist.

“Being part of a board goes well beyond attending meetings,” says Crystal Weber.

Before you agree to participate, you should become familiar with the mission of the organization and understand the level of participation that will be expected of you, she said.

Voluntary boards typically have two charges: 1) To establish organization policy and 2) Administration. In some cases, the board is also responsible for advocating for the organization. If the organization has paid staff, day-to-day operations and, to some extent, daily administration are often entrusted to a paid staff member.

Questions that prospective members should ask before joining a board might include:

1. What does the organization intend to accomplish?

2. Has the organization established short- and long-term benchmarks that the board and staff strive to meet?

3. What precedence does the board give to identifying funding opportunities, and is there a plan for financial sustainability?

4. How does the board establish priorities in setting goals and accomplishing tasks?

5. How does the organization evaluate itself and its accomplishments?

Prospective board members must seriously consider the time commitment their participation on a board would require.

“When you commit to participate as a board member, you aren’t only committing to the position of board member, you are committing to your fellow board members and the time those individuals are putting into the organization,” Weber said. “It is a commitment that should not be taken lightly and should be thoroughly investigated before pledging your time.”

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