Post by BVU Staff: Julie Clark, Sr. Director, Leadership Programs
The February 28th issue of The Chronicle of Philanthropy featured an article titled, “Nonprofits Go All Out to Find and Recruit Stronger Board Members.” In the article, a number of tips are suggested for how nonprofits can build their boards to more effectively serve their missions.
The key to board recruitment is defining what you need and using ALL available networks to spread the compelling message about your work and the need for board members. A few key steps along the way:
FIRST — Determine your ideal board composition based on the important work your organization is undertaking right now. What are the skills, constituent representation, diversity, access to resources and networks that you need to accomplish your work? For example, if you are an organization that focuses on helping young people be prepared for the workforce and higher education, you would probably want to ensure that you have business professionals in those industries as well as representatives from higher education so they can help you keep your programming and services relevant. Identify the gaps so you know what skills and attributes you’re seeking.
NEXT — Use your networks to develop a list of potential board members to contact. You never know who is out there who might have a passion for your work and the skills to help you advance your mission! Ask board members to suggest individuals who meet the needs you’ve identified so that your Board Development Committee can reach out to them. Professional associations, universities, and young professionals’ groups can all be resources as well. And of course, we would suggest that you contact BVU regarding our board matching services. We learn about your needs and then play “matchmaker” to try and find candidates from Northeast Ohio businesses that fit those needs. Our process is painless for the nonprofits and can be another resource for you as you build and refine your board over time.
AND THIRDLY — Be very open in your conversations with potential candidates. Invite them to coffee or for a tour of your facility and have a very candid conversation with them about the organization and what’s going on, how their skills/background fit into what you’re looking for, and share a full overview of what you expect out of board members.
LASTLY — Once you have individuals “on board,” be sure and provide a full orientation and continued ongoing education about your organization. Maybe even have them “buddy up” with a current board member who can guide them along through the learning stage as they join the board.
The “care and feeding” of board members (potential and current) is serious business. Building the board is one of the most important duties of board members, and done right, can immensely impact the effectiveness of your organization.