As one of the leading personalized nonprofit board matching services in the country, we get asked quite a lot, “what can my board be doing better to win at the board recruiting game?” We would answer that your board is already way ahead of a lot of other nonprofits if they understand that board recruiting is indeed a competitive sport, with not enough terrific board members available to fill all the board seats that open up each year. That’s the first step.
Over the last few months, we have been running a series on board recruiting best practices on our blog. We thank our readers who have shared that they enjoyed learning more about practices we see work better than others. But we know our readers are busy doing many other things, like saving the world, so to make things easy for readers who may have missed a few of our posts in this series, here’s our:
Board Recruiting Best Practices – A Wrap Up
Be super clear with board candidates about what is expected from them, in total, when you consider everything they must personally give plus raise from others. Be specific and avoid asking for a financial commitment that is “personally significant” or asks a board member to simply make your nonprofit one of their top three philanthropic grantees. Board candidates almost always prefer boards that lay out just what they need in the way of financial support and why. If your board is not specific, you will likely lose that candidate to another board that is.
Show your board to potential board members and friends of your organizations. These are the terrific people who make your work possible. Not doing so sends a message about how much your value your board, shows a lack of transparency, and is often a very big missed marketing opportunity.
Set a consistent time and place for your board to meet, in person, that is convenient for your board (even if that’s inconvenient for your staff). Avoid lunch and afternoon meetings and be sure to meet at least four times a year.
Be as responsive as you would with any foundation donor when you court potential board members. Foundations give nonprofits money, but your board gives both their time and financial support. Remember that merely talking to a potential board member does not mean you need to offer them a board seat so don’t refuse to talk to a potential board member until your entire team has “signed off” on them, and instead have someone on your team initiate a dialogue as quickly as possible.
- Unplug the ATM machine.
This is by far our most important tip. Most people join nonprofit boards because they want to share their intellectual capital, not just their checkbook. Make it clear that there are plenty of ways to engage aside from fundraising: share examples of interesting projects members have worked on recently, stress how valuable their contributions were and how appreciative the board was, and the impact their work had.
We encourage our readers to read our Top Twelve Tips for Courting New Board Members helpful – it’s one of the most popular and widely shared posts we’ve written.
Cynthia Remec is the Executive Director and founder of nonprofit BoardAssist, New York's leading personalized board matching service. A nationally recognized authorty on nonprofit governance issues, and highly sought after speaker, Ms. Remec has lectured on nonprofit governance at events for the business schools of Columbia, Harvard, Stanford and Wharton, as well as at forums for government agencies, leading financial service institutions and Fortune 100 corporations.