Membership Leaders Share: The Qualities of an Ideal Board Member

Jan 19, 2021

This week kicks off another special collaboration series that’s happening on The Joy of Membership Podcast. This time, I’m pleased to partner with Sean Kosofsky, “The Nonprofit Fixer,” on the topic of board development.

We’ll have three episodes on this topic, followed by a free training on January 29th, which you can register for here.

The experience that an organization can provide for members can be heavily influenced by a Board – for better or worse.

I asked a few of my clients, “If you could wave a magic wand and have the ‘perfect’ board member, what qualities would that person have?”


Here’s what they shared:

Someone who is engaged, who empowers their experts to speak up at committee meetings, someone who offers solutions or ideas to issues we are facing, someone who sees value in collaboration that associations bring, someone who knows their strengths and expertise but also listens and follows others when they aren’t an expert in that arena.

* A strong commitment to and understanding of the mission of our organization

* A team-oriented approach to collaboration 

* An ability to move nimbly between the minutiae of day-to-day operations and larger issues as we develop policies, address concerns, engage in strategic planning, and serve our members

* An enthusiastic willingness to share their time and talents to energize the organization

Unfortunately, oftentimes individuals volunteer for a board just as a “resume filler” or to include the title in their signature line without actually contributing any work to the organization. The ideal Board member is someone who does not micromanage the activities of the association but rather reaches outward into their own wheel house and brings back things that would be beneficial to the organization. For example, a board member that reaches out to their colleagues and contacts and recruits new members or sponsors; a board member with expertise on a subject that would be beneficial to other members and puts together a “Best Practices” educational session; a board member who contributes articles for newsletters, etc.” 

“Qualities that would make a great board member would include loyalty to the association, an interest in promoting membership to others and an interest in helping Implement ideas versus only coming up with ideas.”

“I think a lot depends on the needs of the organization. Some only want board members who are willing to contribute financially and would rather not have them offer direction or opinions. Others (like ours) need a lot of hands-on involvement. In our organization, we need ideas, opinions, assistance with technology and content, and if they can help out financially, that’s great too. I’ve been involved with both, and for me, the latter is much more enjoyable and rewarding.”

“Board Members need to have initiative, be willing to change the way things are done to move the organization forward, know how to instill enthusiasm in members and know how to engage with members.” 


While these leaders represent different types of organizations, of different sizes and different lengths of existence, and focusing on different industries or subject matter, themes are apparent.

I immediately see at least 4 common threads:

  1. An understanding and commitment to the cause
  2. An ability to bring fresh ideas to the table
  3. A willingness to contribute their own talents and connections to advance the organization 
  4. Participation in recruitment of new members and sponsors

What about you? Have you worked with any exceptional board members who really made a difference in the member experience your organization offered? I’d love to hear your thoughts on this topic.

If you missed the first podcast episode in this series, you can catch it here.

This first episode features Sean Kosofsky, The Nonprofit Fixer. Starting next week, we’ll hear from several of Sean’s clients about the work that they’ve done that’s specific to Board Development. 

 Be sure to check it out and go ahead and register for the free training on the 29th, while you’re thinking about it.

It’s Coming! The Joy of Membership’s MemberCare Software

Did you miss last week’s announcement about the upcoming roll-out of my brand new software

This is perhaps the most exciting thing that I’ve been able to roll-out in my business because I know how incredibly helpful it is going to be for organizations that *want* to deliver exceptional care, but feel thwarted by a lack of staff resources to focus on it, or membership software that simply doesn’t let you deliver on the touchpoints that you know you need.

I am currently talking with organizations that are interested in becoming pilot sites. If you’d be interested in exploring the software and what it might mean for your organization to become a pilot site, please visit for details. There’s a button on that page that will let you schedule a Demo/Q&A session, so we can talk one-on-one about the opportunity.

I can’t wait for you to see what’s coming.

Like this article?

   I’ll bet you’re going to *LOVE* JourneyCARE…  what is JourneyCARE?

Hey there.  I’m Joy Duling, Founder and CEO of The Joy of Membership.

If you’re the type of person that is committed to providing an exceptional member experience and you’d like to attract, engage, and retain members more easily, you’ll want to check out the new software platform I’ve created to support you.

It’s called JourneyCARE,, and there’s a good chance that when you see it, you’ll realize that you’ve always wished for something exactly like it.

Come on over and check it out.  I’ll see you over there.