What to Consider During Board Recruitment
Now probably more than ever, our communities need exceptional board members to volunteer. Let's face it: Our nation is hurting from the pandemic, and millions of people remain out of work. However, nonprofits are also in need of a lot of support. Most nonprofits have a low margin, and at a time when fundraising revenue is tight, they, too, need assistance and creative solutions.
As we know, organizations not only survive but also thrive with leadership. And while it's essential to have nonprofit executives who understand how to lead, it's also vital for organizations to have the right board leadership. Some of the reasons why nonprofit board leadership is necessary include the following:
- Nonprofits boards have legal and fiduciary responsibilities for organizations. Good board members ensure that the nonprofit meets its compliance obligations and responsibilities to the government and the community where it serves.
- Boards serve as a bridge between the nonprofit organization and the community. When board leaders go into the community and leverage their networks and speak on behalf of the nonprofit, they understand they are not "hired guns" — they serve because the nonprofit does quality work.
- Board members help ensure that the nonprofit has everything it needs to create excellent programs for its community. For instance, they seek to help organizations raise money and hire the best people for their programmatic and operational work.
How to Recruit Quality Board Members
Your nonprofit has to be smart with its board recruitment. In other words, you shouldn't recruit people to your board who don't have the skills and expertise that you need. For example, if you want to ensure that you have the best oversight for your nonprofit's finances, make sure to recruit board members who have strong financial backgrounds. If you want to understand how to reach into your community for marketing and fundraising, then you should also recruit people to the board who have that kind of expertise and skill. Moreover, it would be best if you also considered the following:
- Understand the needs of your organization, and develop board profiles. For your nonprofit to have the very best people on its board, you must understand your organization's needs. By knowing what you need in your nonprofit leadership, you can ensure that you create the fitting board profiles. Therefore, think of every functional, programmatic and operational area for your nonprofit. Next, think of the skills you need for people who will serve as overseers through respective board committees. As I mentioned above, it would be ideal, for example, if your program team has a chair of a board program committee who understands what a good program should look like for the community. This way, when planning happens, you know the strategy and work plans across your entire organization have the best oversight.
- Make sure you have a strong nominating and board development committee. Although many nominating committees are not as robust as they should be, you can make sure that yours is one of the organization’s most vital groups. These are the people who should get charged with ensuring you recruit the best people for your board leadership. While all your board committees should be robust, make sure that is also true of your nominating committee, which you might want to make a "nominating and board development committee." By expanding its work beyond only nominating, you allow the committee to learn and understand nonprofit board best practices. It then becomes their role to recruit and ensure that your board works at an optimum level and is trained to do so.
- Create continual opportunities for board recruitment. Think of your nonprofit organization as a living and breathing organism. What that means is that it is in a continual state of change and evolution. And in particular, during the digital age when everything happens so quickly, it's essential to remember that you don't know what could happen six months from now, let alone a year from now. Therefore, you always have to seek to keep your eyes open for board member talent. So make it a point to inform all of your board members and members of your executive team to stay aware of successful, motivated, talented and energized individuals. That way, when you have a board opening, you could ask these people to join the board after a vetting process.
Finally, the Council of Nonprofits provides excellent information if you would like to know more about recruiting a nonprofit board. You’ll find links to great resources about how to ask someone to serve on your board, and it also offers everything you need to know about the ins and outs for a high-quality board of directors.
Editor's Note: This Rethink Social Good column was originally published in the November/December print edition of NonProfit PRO. Click here to subscribe.
Wayne Elsey is the founder and CEO of Elsey Enterprises. Among his various independent brands, he is also the founder and CEO of Funds2Orgs, a social enterprise that helps nonprofits, schools, churches, civic groups, individuals and others raise funds, while helping to support micro-enterprise (small business) opportunities in developing nations and the environment.
You can learn more about Wayne and obtain free resources, including his books on his blog, Not Your Father’s Charity.