A Unanimous Choice for the Board Member Hall of Fame

She limits her service to one board at a time.


by Dan Busby and John Pearson


The Law of Diminishing Board Impact:
The more boards on which an individual serves,
the less impact that individual will have on each board.



Why should someone be a shoo-in for the Board Member Hall of Fame? There are many reasons, but the one overriding reason is that she limits her service on boards to one board at a time.

Is it possible for an individual to provide quality board service on multiple boards at the same time? In some rare instances, it may be. However, serving on multiple boards generally causes the Law of Diminishing Board Impact to kick in. It can leave you saying, “In our desire to have high-profile individuals join our board, we had buyer’s remorse because we ignored the impact of the multiple boards on which they were already serving.”

By choosing to serve on only one board at a time, she can:

  • Focus on praying for the ministry. What ministry leader wouldn’t want a board member focusing on prayer for their ministry?

  • Call the CEO, send the CEO encouraging emails, and respond to emails from the CEO in a timely manner. Being the CEO of a ministry can be very lonely. There are few people with whom CEOs can talk at a deep level. Receiving an encouraging call or email from a board member means so much to CEOs. When the CEO sends an update to board members, it is so encouraging to the CEO to receive a timely response from each board member—even a brief response saying “With you.”

  • Attend all board and committee meetings. Serving on more than one board at a time increases the possibility of missing meetings for one of the boards because of conflicting dates.

  • Be available for volunteering. Serving on only one board helps ensure she will have time to volunteer for the ministry.

  • Implement unconflicted opportunities to raise funds for the ministry. Board members often raise funds for the ministry they represent. When individuals serve on multiple boards, it may be very challenging (perhaps impossible) to appropriately prioritize competing appeals when inviting friends and colleagues to give to one or more ministries.

  • Increase the possibility of joyful service. Serving on one board at a time increases the possibility of achieving joy through board service and dramatically decreases the time pressure that often robs board members of true joy.

  • Include the ministry in her giving. Serving on one board allows her to include the ministry in her giving—hopefully making the ministry one of her top three priorities in terms of annual giving.

Ultimately, serving as a board member for multiple ministries at the same time may be appropriate for a few individuals, but from a ministry perspective, serving on one board at a time is the ideal.



The qualifications for hall-of-fame board members are not based
simply on impressive resumés or years of board service.
We honor people who passionately commit abundant time
and energy to serve on one board at a time.
Combined with God-honoring competencies and humility,
that will always outweigh mere credentials and years of service.

  Board Action Steps:

  1. Inquire: When “dating” a board prospect, ask about current involvement on other boards and assess the length of those commitments.

  2. Incude: When determining if a board prospect has adequate time for board service, include all of that person’s additional responsibilities (work, family, church, etc.) in your evaluation.

  3. Inspire: Set the bar high for your Board Prospect Pipeline and inspire your board to add only the names of people who would resonate with the “one board at a time” core value.




Lord, guide us to prospects who will affirm board service
as a sacred calling
and will prioritize their time, talent, and treasure
for Kingdom purposes. Amen.


From More Lessons From the Nonprofit Boardroom: Effectiveness, Excellence, Elephants!, 2019, www.ECFA.org/KnowledgeCenter.

This text is provided with the understanding that ECFA is not rendering legal, accounting, or other professional advice or service. Professional advice on specific issues should be sought from an accountant, lawyer, or other professional.