Eight Places to Find Great Board Members
In his book “Great Boards for Small Groups: A 1-Hour Guide to Governing a Growing Nonprofit,” Andy Robinson says organizations should begin their board recruitment with a “gap analysis” that locates board weaknesses and gaps that they then can work to fill. In Chapter 9 of the book, Robinson lists places where organizations can look to find potential board members to fill these gaps. They are:
* Clients, customers and audience members. Those who benefit from the work an organization does or their family members are a good place to start.
* Members and/or donors. They’ve made a financial contribution to your cause, demonstrating an allegiance to your mission, a key characteristic of any board member.
* Volunteers. Donating time to an organization is another necessity for any board member, and volunteers have shown a commitment to do so.
* Committees. Most smart nonprofits include non-board volunteers on their committees, Robinson writes. This can be one way to test a potential board member’s mettle.
* Other nonprofit boards. People often serve on multiple boards. Check out the annual reports and newsletters of other organizations to see who is on their boards and recruit them now, or cultivate them in the present and wait until their board commitment is completed to recruit them to be on your board.
* Professional associations and networks. Association members may have expertise that fits your board needs.
* Public officials. For some organizations, having elected officials and government employees on the board may be inappropriate, Robinson writes, like if your organization works to change government policy. But for some organizations, it can be beneficial.
* Friends. Approach friends that are passionate about the mission of your organization, are up for the responsibility and can fill located gaps in the current board. But Robinson advises organizations not to start the board-building process by recruiting friends.
In closing the chapter, Robinson adds two key points:
1) While it’s beneficial to have rich, well-connected individuals on a board, organizations should not seek out these people just for these characteristics. First and foremost, all potential board members should be committed to an organization’s mission.
2) Don’t be desperate in your search for board members. These are leaders of your organization and, as Robinson writes, “If you don’t expect much, you won’t get much.”
Andy Robinson is a nonprofit trainer and consultant. “Great Boards for Small Groups: A 1-Hour Guide to Governing a Growing Nonprofit,” Emerson & Church, Publishers. $24.95. www.emersonandchurch.com