Solid nonprofit boards filled with engaged, committed superstars, who are also effective in all of their roles — including fundraising — don’t “just happen.”
In actuality, finding (and keeping) the right people is the process of answering one simple question:
“What’s in it for me?”
After all, I don’t need to tell you how busy your board members are between their careers, family, and other areas of their personal lives. Add the time and financial commitment of serving on a nonprofit board, and you have one very full schedule!
Just as your board’s job is to see to the overall direction and financial health of your organization, your job is to make serving as easy as possible and to insure that your board’s members are getting something beyond just feeling great because they’re making a difference.
So how can you recruit great board members…? Benefits!
Benefits are the Key to Superstar Board Members
No, I’m not talking about paying your board or giving them health insurance. In fact, the benefits of serving on a nonprofit board are almost entirely intangible. They’re also very real…
If you currently have business or other community leaders among your board members, the opportunity to meet and work with these people is an obvious selling point.
Nonprofit board service gives individuals the chance to meet people with whom they already have something in common — a passion for your mission. People have forged long-term friendships after getting to know one another on boards they serve on!
Be sure to make your board meetings fun and engaging, so board members will want to come back month after month, and year after year.
Serving on a nonprofit board gives people the chance to strengthen current skills and try out new ones. Going on fundraising ask meetings, for example, is also excellent training for making sales or presentations. Other professional development opportunities include event planning, financial responsibility, and leadership.
Sense of Accomplishment
Your board members make a powerful difference. Hungry children are fed, forests and rivers are cleaned up and protected, sick people are cared for and healed, and animals are given loving homes — all because your nonprofit board members do their work and give their time and money.
Make Board Benefits Clear and Meaningful
How do you make these benefits clear to prospective board members, and how do you insure that your members receive these benefits?
Here are two strategies you can put in place right now:
- As you create your new board packet, be sure to include the names of your current members (networking and social) a list of the various volunteer opportunities (professional development), and to highlight the direct effect that your board has on your mission (sense of accomplishment).
- Schedule up to fifteen minutes’ worth of social time at the beginning or end of each board meeting. Encourage members to socialize during and in-between meetings. And schedule at least one yearly board appreciation event to give them a chance to relax and enjoy each other’s company.
Create a Recruitment (or Nominating) Committee
You also want to identify what type of board members you’re looking for — not just any warm bodies.
Consider what types of people you’re seeking. You may want to include some of the following criteria and characteristics:
- Community leaders
- Professionals (lawyers, accountants, financial experts, doctors, teachers, social workers etc.)
- Corporate leaders (CEO’s and senior VP’s)
- Diversity (race, age, gender, geography, sexual orientation, etc.)
It’s the job of the full board to help recruit new board members. However, this committee will be responsible for filling open seats on your board in a strategic and thoughtful way.
This Week’s Task
This week, evaluate how well you’re doing in terms of recruiting new board members.
- Do you have a formal recruitment process?
- Written job descriptions?
- Do people want to serve on your board (are there clear benefits)?
Note what’s working and what areas where you’d like to improve.
What are you doing well regarding your recruitment process? What still needs work? Share your comments and questions below.
This post is part of my Year of the Fundraising Board series. Check out the entire series to learn how to create a stronger, smarter, and super motivated nonprofit board.