If you're interested in learning what it takes to serve on a nonprofit board of directors, there is still time to register for the Nonprofit Board Institute scheduled for this April.

The five-week course will teach board members, or prospective board members, the basic abilities and responsibilities needed to serve.

Stephanie Meincke, president and CEO of the Arkansas Nonprofit Alliance, said she hopes the course, a partnership between the Alliance and the Junior League of Little Rock, will become an annual event.

Anyone serving or interested in serving as a nonprofit board member is invited to attend. The cost is $125 for Arkansas Nonprofit Alliance or Junior League of Little Rock members and $175 for non-members. Dinner and a handbook will be provided at each session.

Registration for the course is open until March 31 and is limited to 40 participants. At last check, Meincke said about 25 people were registered.

For more information or to register, visit ArkansasNonprofits.org, or contact Angie Albright at 375-1223 or aalbright@ArkansasNonprofits.org.

Meincke recently answered a few questions from Little Rock Soirée on the specifics of the course, and what participants could expect.

Little Rock Soirée: Where did the idea for this course come from?

Stephanie Meincke: We get a lot of requests about board training. It’s one of our main interests, and we learned the Junior League of Little Rock was also interested in the training. [JLLR] is all about leadership development, and we both want to make sure nonprofit board leadership is well-trained.

LRS: What is the need for a course like this within nonprofit boards in Arkansas?

SM: In general, most that have served on boards have had no training. Most of the time, somebody has a passion for something, is asked to be on a board, accepts, but then has no idea what to do. And board of directors for nonprofits are responsible for the organization. It’s important for members to know what their responsibilities are. If there is not a strong board of directors, there’s not a strong nonprofit. To strengthen the nonprofits, it needs to start here.

LRS: What will participants learn in this course?

SM: They will be trained by some of the top board leaders in Little Rock. They’ll learn about leadership and learn their own style, and how to look for a board that meets their style. In addition, they will learn the nuts and bolts — as far as structure and rules of order. They will also learn about cultural diversity and how the board can represent the values of the community. One of the biggest things they will learn about is financial management — how to read statements, issues of sustainability and fundraising. One evening will also spent discussing strategic planning, because that’s the root of all organizations. Then, a panel of folks who have served, and been in the trenches so to speak, will share their experiences.

LRS: Has their been any input from nonprofit boards?

SM: Most definitely. Last year, we had someone come and do training. From that, it stirred up enthusiasm. Everyone said, "I wish you could come talk to our board." We also get requests to come out directly and work and consult with various boards. We thought it would be better to set up the training. We want to see this become an annual institute for new board members.

LRS: What’s been the reaction of boards you spoke with?

SM: There has been a lot of positive reaction, as far as topic area and the partnership with the Junior League goes. The Junior League is highly-esteemed, and people are excited about us teaming up to do this. There are a lot of dedicated board members and having this capacity to train is very welcome.

LRS: Upon completion, what do you want participants to be able to take with them to their boards?

SM: I want them to select the board that fits their cause, and way of working. When they attend that first meeting, I want them to know what their responsibilities are and how to ensure the nonprofit is sustainable. Further more, if board members are trained and know why they are there, they stay longer. You get a more stable, cohesive board this way.