This is the sixth post in the Effective Nonprofit Board series.
We have spent the last few weeks discussing various aspects of board service including on-boarding new board members, setting expectations through a board commitment letter, and interviewing prospective board members. However, all of this information is essentially useless unless you understand who you need on your board.
Why Wealth Isn’t the Deciding Factor in Board Recruitment
When I ask organizations who they want to serve on the board of directors, I often get responses such as, “someone who is very wealthy,” or “someone who knows lots of people,” or “someone who will just write us a check and not get involved in the organization too much.” While it should be an expectation that all board members contribute financially to the work of the organization, wealth should not be a deciding factor in board recruitment. Since each of us gives or not according to what is in our hearts, if someone is not connected to the mission of the organization, they are not going to contribute financially at the level you think they should simply because they are able. So, eliminate wealth as a factor in the board recruitment process.
Factors that Do Matter in Board Recruitment
But, the question still remains, “Who do you need on board?” Let’s walk through a step by step process of how to get the people that you want and need on board.
- Assess the skills, talents and resources (connections) of current board members. This can be done through the use of a board matrix completed by each board member and then compiled into one document. (Members of the Faith Based Nonprofit Resource Center will have access to a board matrix in this months’ content. Learn more here.)
- Consider having someone serve on the board who is a recipient or graduate of your service. Many funders ask if the organization has representatives of the client population on the board of directors.
- Review the strategic plan. To get where you want to go in the next 1-3 years, who do you need to help you get there? What skills are areas of expertise are needed?
So now that you know who you need on board, the challenge becomes finding and recruiting those individuals.
Develop a “secret” list of people who you think would be good potential board members. Talk with your board members, ask them who they know and who they think might be good board members. Obviously, since you are keeping a list of people’s names, what they can contribute to the mission of the organization in terms of time, talent and resources, you will not want this list to be made public. (Members of the Faith Based Nonprofit Resource Center will have access to a list of where to find board members in this month’s content. Learn more here.
Remember as you begin recruiting people and thinking about having people serve on the board of directors, it is not a good idea to meet someone and immediately ask them to serve. It’s sort of like dating, you need to meet a lot of people, spend time getting to know them and then decide if you want to marry them.