Recruiting Nonprofit Board Members

Recruiting Nonprofit Board Members

Over the last couple of years cityCURRENT has partnered with The Assisi Foundation of Memphis, Inc. to host a quarterly series of “Get On Board” lunch workshops designed to help nonprofit leaders and those serving on boards become more successful with their efforts. We’ve covered topics like Board Service 101 and the basic responsibilities and questions to ask before serving, social media and marketing, fundraising, and fiduciary responsibility. Our most recent session was led by Mark Dean and covered nonprofit board recruitment and onboarding. Since there were so many valuable tips shared, I figured I’d take the next couple of weeks and cover some of his recommendations in this column.

Let’s start with nonprofit board recruitment. At the event, Mark laid out a nine step plan that started with identifying the needs of the board. It’s important to know the skill sets, expertise, availability, and sphere of influence of your current board members, so you can assess what you might be missing and need to add, in order to take your organization to the next level. The goal is to have diversity, so consider things like age, gender, ethnicity, access to resources, community connections, professional skills, and experience. Do you need someone with a legal background or someone in operations or marketing and communications? Do you need individuals who have more time to dedicate to volunteerism or larger networks for fundraising? What about community stakeholders and representatives for those you serve, so their voices are heard, as well? Being specific about who you have on your team and what you need will make it easier to find the right board members for the future. 

After you’ve identified gaps that need to be filled, the next step is cultivating sources and identifying individuals with the desired characteristics. You can set up a committee focused on recruitment, but ultimately, all board members should be involved in providing potential candidates and in the process of recruitment. Talk with organizations like New Memphis Insititute, Volunteer Odyssey, Leadership Memphis, chambers of commerce and others that work with large groups of professionals and start compiling a candidate list, as a pipeline for the upcoming year and years to come.

Step three is to recruit new board members. When you’re sitting down with candidates, talk about your organizational needs and why you’re seeking their expertise and engagement. Be honest about the time commitment, expectations for financial contributions, roles and responsibilities. Honesty is always the best policy, so board memebers know exactly what they’re getting into, what the expectations are and where they’ll be able to plug in and make a difference, so they’ll be fully commited and successful with their service. Next week we’ll discuss orientations.


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