Quality Boards Depend on Quality Recruiting
I was consulting recently with a CEO of an organization who worked with a governing board. We talked for an hour on the topic of boards. He had a board with term limits that were poorly enforced. The officers of the board had no term limits. There were no rules of accountability for performance. The recruiting practices were based upon filling seats — not filling for purposes of talent or need. The board received little orientation and did not know much about the organization they represented.
Some board members were very engaged and positive while others rarely attended meetings and were not engaged. In fact, several members were a continuous source of problems for him and the organization. Does this scenario or parts of it relate to your board? I have worked with many boards through the years, and many of these same themes come through loud and clear. If you do not effectively recruit board members in a proper way, do not be surprised at the performance you will receive.
Propel Nonprofits notes that your board members are some of your best allies, advocates and stakeholders. To maximize board member reengagement, be clear on where your organization is heading and what strategies board members are asked to perform. Ask yourself if you have a process to onboard board members and potential board officers. What expectations do you have for service, and is your board prepared to incorporate diverse perspectives and experiences?
Recruit potential board members through community engagement channels, asking current board members for contacts and develop a potential board leadership pipeline to the board. One suggestion for recruiting new board members is through using the tool Board Connector. It will guide you through this important process.
Nonprofit Expert states that it is both the volunteer’s and staff’s job to identify, recruit and develop volunteer leaders for your organization. Staff members must determine the needs of the organization and board for certain areas of expertise and community influence. The staff needs to research prospects for wealth, giving capacity, giving history, volunteer involvement, business relationships, education, background and other factors.
From this analysis, a strategy must be incorporated that determines the right person to contact the individual for service. The staff needs to create a volunteer board member work plan for a year, so the recruit knows exactly what is expected in the way of service, time and commitment. The current board and staff must agree on the right mix of talent for the board to fully succeed.
Recruiting the right board members for your nonprofit should be among the most critical issues for any nonprofit, according to GuideStar. A quality board can raise more money and provide greater awareness for your organization. When considering the recruitment of a board, survey your current board and build a board matrix to develop where board strength is needed.
Conduct a sphere of influence conversations with partners and friends of your organization to help recruit new board members. Consider using a technology tool such as Relationship Science (RelSci) for recruiting purposes. Invite board prospects to meet with staff and leadership to better understand each other. Create roles and responsibilities and make the recruiting ask. Board growth is important to organizational success.
While preparation and careful thought drives board recruitment decisions, you may want to cast your net wide to create a nomination list of potential board members. Five fast ways to recruit new board members, according to Compass Point, are to post a great board member wanted sign on free websites, such as boardnetusa.org or volunteermatch.org. Place a help wanted–volunteer board member ad in your newsletter.
Establish a recruiting task force of 20 well-connected community influencers and invite them to a meeting with the goal of having each person provide one name of a potential excellent board member. Ask the staff to recommend from the current volunteer ranks potential quality board members. Talk to your peers about their board recruiting practices and review best board recruiting practices to determine ways to develop a list of potential quality board members.
Amy Eisenstein provides four steps to recruit great board members: create a list of your ideal board members, establish a committee of board members that would be responsible for recruiting and vetting new board members, create a written board member job description and develop a thorough orientation process that includes materials, tours and written board member expectation guidelines.
I strongly suggest that you do quality research to find the right candidates to fill board positions. Understand what talents, abilities and skills are needed on your board. Look at other nonprofits, talk to your local United Way plus Chamber of Commerce. Evaluate your major donor list to see if there are any potential board members in your ranks. Ask influential retired board members if they know of potential members. Look for quality, not quantity. When seeking a board member, try to determine if a board member could not only serve on your board, but play the role of chairman of this board at some point.
Finally, see if your area has a leadership development program, like Leadership Dayton. Several years ago, I was in a class of 43 executives from this community that participated in a comprehensive year-long program, sponsored by the Dayton Area Chamber of Commerce. At the end of the year, each member of this class was encouraged to help their community by selecting a nonprofit board to serve on going forward. I selected the Red Cross and was so glad I did. Remember, quality boards depend on quality recruiting, which starts today for you!
F. Duke Haddad, EdD, CFRE, is currently associate director of development, director of capital campaigns and director of corporate development for The Salvation Army Indiana Division in Indianapolis, Indiana. In addition, he is also president of Duke Haddad and Associates, LLC, and freelance instructor for Nonprofit Web Advisor.
He has been a contributing author to NonProfit PRO for the past 13 years.
He received his doctorate degree from West Virginia University with an emphasis on education administration, master’s degree from Marshall University with an emphasis in public administration and a bachelor’s degree from West Virginia University in business administration, with an emphasis in marketing/management. He has also done post graduate work at the University of Louisville.