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The #1 Reason Board Members Fail

Most board members fail because the proper expectations weren’t set in their recruitment. On top of recruiting great talent your single greatest blueprint for board member success is setting clear expectations. A detailed robust board contract takes you across the finish line. If you need some help setting clear expectations in your board contract, try this free sample board contract.

pursuantWhen we think about having a great board of directors it’s tempting to fantasize about having lots of big name powerhouses that can write large checks but in reality these people may have no connection to our cause. The ABC’s of donor prospecting: access, belief and capacity all apply to board recruitment. You need to have access to these individuals, they need to believe in your cause, and while we typically think of capacity as their giving potential, consider capacity as your board prospect’s availability to commit their time and talents to your organization.

We all want experienced board members connected to our cause, ready to give and share their network of key contacts as well as specialized expertise. Here’s 5 steps to help you recruit great board members:

Step one: List who you want to serve. Who are the current or up and coming movers and shakers in your community and your sector?

Step two: Determine accessibility. Do you currently have access to them and if not who can make the introduction? Another board member, a donor, a community leader? Do you have mutual connections on LinkedIn that help you get the introduction?

Step three: Do they care about your cause? Nothing trumps passion. Their passion is what will open the doors to their network, inspire them to make stretch gifts and keep them engaged.

Step four: Can they commit? Next to their passion for your cause the single greatest predictor of your success with a new board member is their clear understanding of the responsibilities of board service. Too often we fail in this regard. Eager to fill a vacant seat or secure a well-known name, we fail to clearly communicate expectations of service, especially fundraising expectations, and we end up with a recipe for churn and failure.

Step five: Cultivate. Not every board prospect will be ready to commit when you are. Most won’t. You’ve got to cultivate their engagement in your cause so you are next in line and able to move them to your board as soon as their commitment allows.

Are you frustrated with a board that isn’t fundraising and ready to do something about it? Check out our free webinar, “Why Your Board isn’t Fundraising and How to Fix it” to learn the secrets behind supremely successful boards and give you tips to transform your board members into fundraisers. If you’re hungry for a comprehensive guide of tips to develop your board download our free Ultimate Guide to Building Your Board whitepaper.

The preceding is a guest post by Rachel Muir, CFRE & Vice President of Training at Pursuant where she transforms individuals into confident, successful fundraisers through classroom, custom and online training. When she was 26 years old, Rachel Muir launched Girlstart, a non-profit organization to empower girls in math, science, engineering and technology in the living room of her apartment with $500 and a credit card. Several years later she had raised over 10 million dollars and was featured on Oprah, CNN, and the Today show. Follow Rachel on Twitter here and Pursuant on Twitter here.

Topics: Nonprofit Leadership and Practice