Tips on how nonprofits can recruit ‘good’ board members
The first step in recruiting a good board members for a nonprofit is for the existing directors to perform a board self-assessment. It is vital to figure out where the organization wants to be in five years and then work from there to determine the type of members it needs to achieve its goals.
The board also must review its present members to see what characteristics it already has, and what it is lacking. Then, the board can begin to seek out members who possess the desired characteristics.
Here are some tips for improving the recruiting process:
» Create a nominating committee: Typically, the nominating committee of a nonprofit board is in charge of figuring out the type of people necessary to take the organization to the next level. Having a nominating committee ensures that recruiting is a continuous activity and not a last-minute scramble to fill empty seats.
» Brainstorm: The nominating committee, with assistance from other board members, should consider inviting colleagues who might fit the necessary criteria to join the board, keeping in mind that boards should be professionally diverse.
» Discuss the nomination: Before even approaching the candidate, discuss in great detail the nominee's background so that there are few surprises. If possible, have a board member "test the waves" before setting up a more formal discussion.
» Set up a meeting: The nominating committee might want to meet with a potential candidate over a casual breakfast or lunch to see if the candidate is truly interested and compatible.
» Present clear expectations: Prior to the first meeting, communicate to board members their roles and responsibilities in writing.
» Treat all board members with respect: To recruit good board members, the board itself needs to be a group where everyone feels that they are appreciated for a job well done.
» Keep board members fulfilled: Now that a board of directors has the right mix of people in place, how do they keep the members engaged and fulfilled? The answer is simple: recognition, respect for other people's time, and forward-thinking, productive board meetings. There is nothing more off-putting than an agenda that reads "report, report, report." It insults a person's intelligence and seems to make board members totally passive and reactive. Board members will eventually tune out.
Other advice includes providing educational materials on how to be a good board member and personal appreciation and recognition from the chief executive officer or board chairman. A small symbol of appreciation, every now and then, wouldn't go amiss. However, the best reward is truly a heartfelt "Thank you."
Lynn Shimono is a senior manager for Grant Thornton LLP in Honolulu. She can be reached at Lynn.Shimono@gt.com