How to Ensure Effective and Engaged Nonprofit Boards – Part One – Finding Good Board Members

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How to Ensure Effective and Engaged Nonprofit Boards Part Two – Board Member Expectations and Requirements

How to Ensure Effective and Engaged Nonprofit Boards – Part Three – Board Member Orientation and Training

The ideal board member is someone who is both effective and engaged. When recruiting people for your board, look for individuals who are passionate about your mission and have skills and expertise that will help your organization succeed. You want someone who chooses to be on your board because they are committed to serving the community and not because it looks good on their resume.

There is a popular phrase in the nonprofit world that says board members should offer time, treasure, and talent to an organization. That’s sounds good, but don’t just recruit a potential board member whose only contribution to your organization will be a financial one.

One of the best ways to find new board members is for your current board to hand select them. You may have a nominating or membership committee to do this, but all board members can weigh in. Your board should have a pretty extensive professional network where they can find potential new members.  

You could also consider some of your current donors. After all, they have already made a commitment to your organization. If you do try to recruit donors, again make sure they are able to provide time and talent, and not just treasure.

The Executive Director (ED) sometimes recommends people for the board. This can be tricky, because the ED is accountable to the board.

I have seen some organizations post announcements on listserves trying to recruit board members. I’ve never thought this was a great recruitment method. You would have to spend more time vetting someone to ensure they will be a good match for your organization.

Your board should include people with a diverse set of skills. If your current board is lacking someone with a particular background, say law or finance, then that’s where you should focus your recruitment efforts. For the record, your board does need at least one member with law background and another with financial expertise (who may be your board treasurer).   

Of course, the ideal board consists of people who are reflective of the community you serve, and everyone wants a diverse board, but the top priority should be finding someone who is effective and engaged.

You can use this sample recruitment form to help you identify certain demographic groups and skill sets. Sample Board of Directors Recruitment Grid

After you identify potential candidates,conduct an interview process. This can consist of the applicant filling out a questionnaire and meeting with the nominating committee. At this time, you should go over any expectations and requirements.

In Part Two, I will discuss Board Expectations and Requirements. In the meantime, what are some ways that your organization recruits board members?

Here are some additional resources on recruiting board members.

For everything you wanted to know about nonprofit boards, go to BoardSource  

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