Imagine your Board has examined the “big picture” needs of your nonprofit organization including the representation of younger members and different constituent groups to ensure long term viability. A grid has been created that identifies the required skills for meeting these strategic objectives. In addition, core working values have been defined so finding a cultural fit among prospective board members will be easier. Now the time has come to “recruit”! This blog post will focus on what actions to take when searching for new board members.
Recruiting requires energy, enthusiasm and constant effort. Why? Well, sometimes life “happens” taking members away from their initial commitments. And, it’s not as if we can meet a person one day and ask them to join the board on the next. Due diligence and a clear process will assure there’s a good match from the start. It’s best to begin a dialog and deliberately introduce potential members to the nonprofit and its many worthwhile programs. Be patient. Don’t rush.
Recruiting as an Ongoing Endeavor
Organize a sub-committee or regularly add membership recruitment to board meeting agendas. Make recruitment an ongoing discussion. Regardless of structure, all board members should be “on the look out” for new members.
Create A Sphere of Influence List
Like any other type of “search”– for a job, a new employee, a reliable purchase –when looking for new board members start with your own “sphere of influence”, those layers of friends, acquaintances and professional contacts in our lives. As a group, identify “who you know” and or “who others know” and make a list of potential candidates. Then match it to the “what’s needed” matrix. Keep track of the board contact and or who will make introductions to the candidate.
Set up a process for recruitment
We want board members to feel at ease and set the right expectations when asking others to consider a board position. Once the qualifying pre-requisites have been met, what next? Perhaps:
- A phone or in-person introduction from the co-chair or subcommittee chair
- An invitation to a “get to know us” event;
- A clear explanation of board responsibilities;
- A specific ask around what we hope the new member might help us with.
Determine what process makes sense for your board.
Consider the most logical “entry” points for new board members. Do new board members join once a year or more? Who is rotating off the board and when? Decide which timing makes the most sense for the work-flow and allows for sustainability in the board’s composition. Of course, make sure the time commitment is clear and that there are limits for everyone.
Out of the Box
Push your members to look beyond the obvious contributors. Sometimes people just need to be asked. Some individuals might be loyal supporters but not as vocal as others, causing them to be overlooked. Think broadly!
Starting from Scratch?
Again, begin with who you know and who might have an affinity for your board and its work. There are some organizations that might be able to help:
A “Volunteer Action Center” in your community (Denver has Metro Volunteers and Volunteers of America, for example)
Since board recruitment offers a chance to talk about the cause and the board’s contributions, believe it or not, finding new members can be fun. The success of a nonprofit depends upon clear leadership and board recruitment should be at the top of the list.