Thursday, January 14, 2010

Recruiting a Top Notch Board

I’ve had two conversations with board members of two different nonprofit organizations recently that echoed some of the same frustrations. Maybe this sounds familiar to you too – long, ineffective board meetings; discussing the same issues over and over; board members who don’t come to meetings or don’t prepare ahead of time; board members with agendas; board members afraid to hold each other accountable because they don’t want to "hurt" anyone’s feelings. Do any of these scenarious sound familiar?

As I was talking with these folks, I kept thinking to myself does it start with recruiting? What if board members understood and were highly engaged in the mission of the organization? If they knew exactly what was expected of them and where the organization was headed (strategic planning), understood their roles and responsibilities and were committed to doing their share as a board member, wouldn't they be more effective? Would that be a dream come true?

I’ll throw this out – shouldn’t the recruitment process be one of the most important things we do as a board? Here are some suggestions:

Board Profiling – charting the makeup of our boards as far as diversity, areas of expertise, community involvement and personalities. Then begin compiling lists of potential candidates to fill in gaps. Expect that the recruitment process could take some time. Begin cultivating potential board candidates, don’t just settle for warm bodies to fill slots.

Interview Potential Candidates – ask them why they want to serve. Do they understand and care about the mission? Do they have time? But most importantly, see what they ask YOU. Make sure they understand their roles and responsibilities, their legal and fiduciary responsibilities and exactly what is expected of them.

I’d be interested in hearing your recruitment strategies. What has worked for your organization? How have you found the very best people to fill board positions in your organization?

Holly Witt
NRS Alexandria Charter

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

In working with nonprofit Boards, I've also found it's a good idea to 'manage expectations' before they even join the Board. By that I mean that when we meet with prospective Board members, I very clearly outline what we expect from them - including specific dollar amounts for donations and number of events they are expected to attend. I've even worked with organizations that go so far as to prepare a 'checklist' of Board duties that includes everything from financial support to how many 'new' contacts we'd like the Board member to introduce to the organization on a yearly basis.

Teresa Morrow
SVP, Bremer Banks