Recruiting a Board of Directors

The Board of Directors is the governing body of a nonprofit organization. It is so important to get the right people on the board in the first place, so the organization can run smoothly and effectively, so today I want to help you as you go through the process of recruiting a board of directors.

In this article I am going to discuss the following points:

  1. How large should a Board of Directors be?
  2. Who do you recruit to the Board of Directors?
  3. How do you recruit a potential board member?

How Large Should a Board of Directors be?

Every nonprofit Board of Directors will have a different amount of members. I have seen effective Boards that are 3 members, and I have seen effective Boards that are over 30 members.

The most important points to follow when deciding on the size of a board are the following:

  1. Every nonprofit organization’s Board of Directors necessitates a range of expertise to fulfill the mission and the responsibilities of the board. For example, one Board responsibility is fundraising. It is a great idea to find a board member with a fundraising background. It is also extremely helpful to have a board member who is familiar with finance and accounting. They will be a big help with the annual budget and the 990.
  2. Make sure that the size of your Board of Directors matches the amount of work that they will need to accomplish. If a board is too small, the board members may begin to feel overworked and overwhelmed. On the other hand, a board that is too large may cause inverse problems. There might not be enough work for each member.

Who Should You Be Recruiting to the Board of Directors?

I have found that the overwhelming majority of people who have addressed this topic agree that (1) passion and (2) commitment to the mission are the most important traits to look for in a potential board member.

The Board will become the face of the organization. Therefore, board members must be dedicated and passionate about the mission or else they won’t be able to effectively fundraise, manage, or further the mission of the organization.

Related Article: Board Wrinkles: The Questions I’m Most Often Asked

How Do You Recruit a Potential Board Member?

Step 1: Do Your Research

Before you ask someone to join the Board of Directors, you should research a significant amount of potential candidates. Look at people who are already on boards for organization’s that are similar to yours. A lot of board members are on multiple boards. Additionally, look into people’s backgrounds—Do they have any financial expertise that will be helpful to your organization? Are they passionate about your cause? Do they have any fundraising experience? These are all factors to take into account before you recruit a board member.

Step 2: Make a Connection

Do you personally know any of the potential board members that you researched? Do you know someone who knows them? If someone is passionate about your cause, these are not always necessary, but it can make the recruit a lot easier if you can already have a connection to the individual.

Step 3: The Ask

Set up a time and place that you can meet with the potential board member. Come prepared with the following materials:

  • A written job description

Make sure that as you discuss the position you don’t understate or overstate their responsibilities. For instance, do not just say that they are expected to show up to the board meetings and that is it.

  • The organization’s bylaws

The organization’s bylaws should explain how meetings will be run as well as the expectations of the Board members attendance. It should also state term lengths and other information that will affect a potential board member’s decision.

  • A schedule of meetings

Show that the nonprofit is organized and effective with their meetings. Provide the potential candidate with as much information as you can about past meetings and how the meetings typically go.

  • Any other materials needed to showcase the organization

Talk to the candidate about the organization.

Do they see themselves as someone who would be a good fit for the Board of Directors?

Are they interested in fundraising and furthering the mission of the organization?

Do they seem like someone who could work well with the other member’s on the Board?

Conclusion

Overall, as you are planning, researching, and recruiting a board of directors, remember that the ultimate goal is to further the mission of the nonprofit organization. Look for candidates who are passionate, willing to fundraise, and will work hard. The success of your organization is in the hands of these individuals.

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