As the ultimate decision-making body for nonprofit organizations, boards of directors are responsible for guiding a nonprofit’s vision and strategy and for overseeing its financial accountability. Finding the right board members is critical to every nonprofit organization’s success. But it’s not just about a leader’s skills and expertise; great board members fundamentally align with your nonprofit’s mission, values and culture.
To recruit more passionate team players to serve on your nonprofit board, make sure your organization is asking itself these four questions.
4 Questions Every Nonprofit Should Ask Itself to Recruit the Right Board Members
1. Do you have a board diversity matrix?
What are the specific skills, experiences and backgrounds your nonprofit board needs to be effective? Create a matrix that outlines these requirements, from the demographic attributes that are important to the necessary professional skills, such as finance, marketing, legal, fundraising, programmatic expertise, and more. Use this matrix as a guide when recruiting new board members. Seek individuals who not only bring diversity in skillsets but also in perspectives, ideas and lived experiences to help your organization grow and adapt to inevitable change.
2. Are you leveraging online platforms to find the right board members?
To attract effective board members, consider using online platforms and networks that connect professionals interested in nonprofit board service with organizations seeking board members. Websites like BoardSource, LinkedIn and BoardLead allow individuals to express their interest in serving on nonprofit boards, while nonprofits can search for potential candidates based on their profiles and interests.
The Nonprofit Leadership Center offers a free Board Finder service to nonprofits with open board positions. These platforms can help you find board members who are genuinely passionate about your cause and bring unique skills to the table. Be sure you vet individuals not yet known to your organization through your regular board member nomination process.
3. How might we deepen our engagement with community stakeholders?
Your existing supporters, volunteers and donors are often some of the best sources for potential board members. They already have a vested interest in your organization and its mission. Actively engage with your network and communicate your board recruitment needs. Host informational sessions or workshops to introduce interested individuals to the responsibilities and benefits of board service. Encourage your current supporters to recommend potential board members from their own networks, too.
4. How can we prioritize our board diversity, inclusion and belonging efforts to better reflect the community we serve?
A diverse board brings fresh perspectives and innovative ideas that lead to more effective strategy, better decision-making, and greater impact for your nonprofit and the whole community.
Be intentional about emphasizing the importance of diversity and inclusion within your board recruitment process. Seek out candidates from underrepresented backgrounds, including individuals from different ethnicities, genders, ages, and professional experiences. Consider adding these aspects to the diversity matrix mentioned above. Consider partnering with organizations and initiatives that focus on board diversity, equity and inclusion.
A Final Word: Recruiting Board Talent
During your nonprofit’s board recruitment process, ensure that potential board members understand the organization’s goals and are passionate about making a meaningful impact. Conduct thorough interviews to assess their commitment and willingness to contribute the time to actively engage in the board’s work.
Lastly, provide opportunities for board members to continuously learn and develop their skills, as ongoing training and development will support ongoing good governance.
Become a Board Rock Star
Join the Nonprofit Leadership Center for a two-part interactive certificate program to learn everything you need to strengthen your board governance:
- Identify, recruit, orient and even release board members
- Define board roles and responsibilities
- Motivate board members and keep them accountable
- Avoid conflicts of interest
- Define an effective board-staff partnership
- Determine the board’s role in financial oversight and fundraising
- Plan and run a successful board meeting
- Develop your nonprofit’s financial statements
- Budget and manage cash flow
- Complete audits and IRS filings