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Build a Better Board with a Recruitment Process.

What is your board recruitment process? Do you have one? If not, you should. Too often it can feel like you're running around in circles. Organizations struggle with their boards because they vote in the first person who agreed to serve, or perhaps, the person is a good fit but wasn’t properly onboarded. There’s a host of reasons why organizations struggle with boards. Creating a standardized board recruitment process is a solid step to building a better board AND it shows your organization takes board service seriously.

How do you know what kind of board member is needed.

The process should begin with a board matrix (get yours in my Resource Library) that your board members fill out. A diverse board is key to any successful nonprofit. You not only want to make sure your board is diverse in age, gender and race but, also, in experience in industry and skillset. Perhaps you need an attorney who is well connected in the community, can provide legal guidance and is a skilled facilitator. Or, perhaps, you need a psychiatrist on your board that can act as a resource as you begin building a new mental health program. Maybe you've inherited a board that doesn’t like to fundraise (oh boy!) and needs community members with affluence and influence. A customized board matrix that suits your organization can help you and your board be strategic as you begin looking for new board candidates.

So, you’ve identified several potential candidates that align with your board matrix, had an initial meeting with them, and they are interested in next steps. Now what?

The prospective board member should receive a board informational packet to review. The packet should have:

· Board application (yes, they are applying for your board)

· Job description (which includes board expectations)

· Program brochure

· Success story

· List of committees and their purpose

· Board agreement form

· Bylaws

· Board Meeting dates

Seems like a lot of information. It is. Serving on a board should never be taken lightly. It’s a privilege to serve as a board member. They are responsible for helping ensure the success of your nonprofit. If a candidate is still interested at this point, then they should send their board application (a resume can be used) back to you and schedule a tour.

The tour should include your program(s) and facilities if possible. It’s a good idea to help your potential board member understand the size and scope of your organization. It’s also important for them to meet staff during the tour. I recommend dedicating some time for a Q&A, after the tour, with your leadership team.

This process occurs with each board candidate. There will be some who decide they cannot move forward for one reason or another and that’s ok. Once you have confirmed all interested board candidates and received their applications/resumes they should be shared with your Board Nominating Committee or Board (depending on your organization’s process) for review.

One of the last steps is inviting your board candidates to a board social. This is an opportunity for current and prospective board members and the leadership team to come together outside of work in a social setting. The event serves as an opportunity for candidates to meet other board members/staff they may not have met and vice-versa. It also serves as a time for deeper, richer conversations about board service, the work, and organization. The event should be educational yet fun! Be sure a board member or the ED/CEO sends a thank you note to each candidate for their interest and time after the social.

The final step should be a conversation between the board and ED to discuss all interested candidates and make sure they are a good fit. Make sure they align with your board matrix.

Don’t forget to follow up with any prospects who weren’t invited to join the board after your board votes on the candidates.

After establishing a process and timeline the first time, the rest becomes routine (hopefully!). This process takes time but it’s time well spent if you want to build a better board!

If you need support establishing a board recruitment process that’s right for your organization, then let’s talk!

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