Recruit the Board You Need

Debbie Mathews Finch and I recently did a session for our local United Way agencies about Best Practices in Board Recruitment. In case you missed it, here are some highlights. Contact us if you would like us to come talk to your board about how to recruit the board you need to accomplish your goals! – Susan Suarez

Recruit the Board You Need

Top performing boards are a key ingredient in top performing organizations, and it all starts with who is sitting around the boardroom table. Board recruitment does not happen once per year…it is something you need to be constantly working on to find and retain the board members you need.

1. Get your house in order:  Do you have:
– a 
Nominating Committee that is constantly trolling for talent?
– Written Board job description, expectations, committee descriptions, term limits, conflict of interest policy?

2. Understand what Key Board Competencies your organization needs

These are the skills, talents, traits that your organization needs in its board to help it reach its goals. These competencies should be linked to your strategic plan. What do you need today, and what will you need in the future?

3. Create a BVP: Board Value Proposition

Why would someone with the key competencies you need want to join your board? What is special about your organization? What do you offer board members? Here is an example:

“We are seeking board members who want to be part of an organization that provides world class youth development programs. Our organization is poised for growth geographically and in the scope of the services it provides. Our board members are trained in exceptional governance practices and are important strategists for our work in the community.”

4.  Where to find board members

Start with your closest supporters: donors, people who attend your events, and your volunteers. Then moving out from there, talk to people at churches, universities, leadership programs, and those who serve on other nonprofit boards. This should be a constant activity where you are seeking to learn more about various people’s interest in your organization and their relevant skills.

5. Interviewing potential board members

The interviewing team should be no more than 3 people: the executive director, the board chair, and someone from the nominating committee. Questions should be centered around the prospects interests and their skills (to see if they fit with your key competencies). This is also the time to share information about your organization – its mission, its vision for the future, who it serves and its accomplishments.

6. Selection of the candidate

Once you have interviewed a few prospects, the nominating committee should consider several factors in making its selection and recommendation to the Board:

—- Review the key competencies
—- Commitment to mission
—- Fit with the board
—- Committed to board expectations
—- Objectivity
—- Diversity
—- Red flags?
—- References? Other boards?

If someone may not be the right fit for the board at the moment, you may want to invite them to serve on a committee. This gives you both a chance to get to know each other better.

7. Board Orientation

Don’t miss this important step! Once you bring on a new board member, you want them to be able to start to contribute right away, and a strong orientation is vital to making that happen. In addition to reviewing details about the organization in more depth, be sure to go over the board calendar, committee assignment, and the conflict of interest policy. Have a board member take the new member to lunch sometime after the first meeting. And teach the new member all about board recruitment so he/she can help with the keeping the pipeline of board prospects full.

8.  Call us today to schedule a presentation on this topic (or other governance issues) for your entire board!

About Susan Suarez

I am a nonprofit management and fundraising consultant. I have 30 years experience in the philanthropic sector including senior level positions in management, fundraising and grantmaking. I started consulting in 2003, working with local nonprofits and with community foundations nationally. My experience as Executive Director of Eden Autism Services Florida, President of the Community Foundation of Collier County, Vice President of Marketing and Development for the Community Foundation Silicon Valley, and Development Director for the American Red Cross in Palo Alto, CA provides a deep background in philanthropy and management to benefit my clients.
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