Top Tips to Finding Tip Top Board Members

Posted by on May 23, 2012 | 0 comments

A great board of directors for your nonprofit is one more critical key to your success.  Putting in the time to find the right people pays off. Once your new board members are on board, it’s your responsibility to use them. Begin by providing training, take time to listen to them, nurture them, and be ready to use their expertise, contacts, and reputation to expand your network and identify potential donors.

“The first question nonprofits should consider as they start to formulate their board recruiting plans is: What are our key strategic priorities, and what new skills or expertise might we need on our board to help us achieve those priorities?” This and more good information about recruiting and vetting board members can be found at bridgestar.org.

The following TOP TIPS for building a strong, effective board come from the Center for Civic Partnerships:

Top Tips

  • Recruit new members strategically to find the right people to meet your organization’s needs. Remember, recruitment is an ongoing process, and not just something to think about when vacancies arise.
  • Determine the types of skills you need on your board. Consider members who have skills in accounting, legal matters, property management or policy areas.
  • Develop clear roles and responsibilities for board members. Some organizations prepare job descriptions for board members, especially for officer positions such as president, vice president, treasurer and secretary.
  • Educate board members so they understand the organization’s mission and programs as well as their legal and fiscal responsibilities.
  • Orient new members. Prepare a board manual and initiate a board mentoring system – current board members can provide support and coaching to new members. Consider inviting board members to tour your organization and meet with senior organizational staff as part of their orientation.
  • Establish committees that will enable board members to take an active role in furthering the organization. Some nonprofits require board members to serve on committees prior to joining the board.
  • Communicate with board members in between meetings. Use the opportunity to provide organizational updates, encourage people to follow-through on commitments, and discuss issues in an informal setting.
  • Host an annual retreat for board members. You may consider involving staff as well. Engage the services of a skilled facilitator to assist with planning and facilitating the session.
  • Appreciate, recognize and celebrate the contributions of board members.
  • Periodically self-assess your performance as a board to determine how well you’re carrying out your responsibilities and identify challenges that require action.
  • Establish term limits and rotate board members so that fresh ideas and new energy come into your organization.
One additional comment I would add is the importance of inviting your board members to contribute. Many grant-giving foundations now ask if your board members are financially invested in your nonprofit organaization.

 

It’s important that board members “link arms” with you and become a valued part of your organization, whether by financial or in-kind donation, networking efforts, or the added value of their wisdom and experience.

 

Don’t hesitate to make this part of your initial conversations when speaking with potential board members. Good board members want to be involved and they want to contribute. In fact, their willingness to give (money, time, talent, energy) might be the litmus test you need, so remember to use it.

 

I stumbled upon this article on how board members should decide to join (or not) a nonprofit board of directors. It’s a good perspective to keep in mind when talking to your potential board member candidates. Think about what you’re asking for from their perspective. Are you a good fit for them? It’s not only the other way around.

 

And finally, remember that board members are people too. They need to feel wanted, appreciated and valued, or you are wasting their time and yours.

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