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A board member is a senior job that involves serving as a fiduciary on behalf of an organization. The primary responsibilities of a board are oversight, governance, and accountability, in addition to formulating a clear strategy. The board also has an excellent chance to help an important mission in your local community, and can have a significant impact on the lives of both individuals and organizations.

In a publicly held company, the board represents the owners (shareholders or stockholders) and sets policy that determines issues such as whether or not to pay dividends, the size of the dividend, stock options granted, and hiring/firing/compensation of upper management. In reality, however it is the management and not the board that wields most of the practical power as directors usually follow the management’s advice and approving the management’s decisions.

When choosing candidates to join your board, it’s vital to find people with the appropriate competencies and the character and experience that are required to fulfill the position. Competence is the ability to comprehend complex issues and make sound decisions. Character is a reflection of your organization’s fundamental values, and the way you choose your members represent those values will reflect what your company stands for.

Your network is an excellent place to start looking for a potential candidate. Contact a trusted member of your network or community group, and ask them if they know someone on the executive director’s or board. Introduce yourself and tell them why you’d like to be on the board. Also inform them of your track record for attending meetings and being prepared.