One of the questions that I am frequently asked by nonprofit leaders is how to recruit new board members and then immediately following that question is, “how do I get them involved?”
All nonprofits are required to have a board of directors. According to the IRS, the board of directors, as a unit are legally responsible for the organization. However, I hear from nonprofits every day that they are struggling to get board members. And, I hear from many more that they don’t really want a board
“getting into their business.” While there is a lot of negativity by nonprofit leaders about boards, much of it comes from a lack of understanding of roles and responsibilities and expectations that are not clear—on either side.
To recruit board members, it may be helpful to understand the factors that are considered by potential board members when deciding whether or not to serve on a board. A recent survey of nonprofit board members by Software Advice reveals some insights.
Key findings include:
- Personal fulfillment is the most common reason for serving on a board of directors.
- The most important consideration before joining a board is level of expected involvement. In other words, how much time will serving on the board require?
The survey also asked participants about the skills that they believe have the most impact on the success of board members. A variety of skills are needed by nonprofit board members, however, the survey participants agreed that there should be at least one board member who is proficient in each of the following areas:
- Understanding and analysis of financial data
- Time management and organizational skills
- Legal skills
- Leadership and project management skills
- Marketing and media skills
- Technology skills
- Fundraising skills
While these skills are important and most nonprofits want individuals who have expertise in these areas, the study also found that it is important for board members to have extensive volunteer experience and good communication skills. But, perhaps the most important characteristic of good board members is their love for the organization’s mission. Passion for the mission can and should trump all other skills.
As you communicate with potential board members, it is important to clarify their expectations of board service are and how they align with what the needs of the organization are. When needs and expectations align, board service can be a rewarding experience for all involved.
Are you struggling with board recruitment or do you just know that you can be better than you currently are? Contact us today and head into 2019 with a strong board.