Where Can You Find Board Members?

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Your nonprofit has done an assessment of board membership and determined that you need a few new members to fill particular roles and responsibilities. Instead of simply asking friends if they want to join, consider doing a search as if you were hiring a senior executive.

 

Here are some places to look for new board members. However you search, remember to focus primarily on what you need rather than on who you know:

  • Current and recent volunteers might be a good place to start. A donor who has made repeated contributions might be someone you want to consider. If you’ve decided that you should add clients to your board, look in that direction and also consider their families and friends.
  • There are websites and online portals for posting a “board member wanted” notice. If you’ve joined a chamber of commerce you might check your fellow members to see if a candidate emerges. Maybe a high-value individual has recently left the board of another nonprofit and could be a candidate to join yours.
  • Who are the community leaders and activists working on the same goals you’re addressing? Has anyone been honored or recognized for service on a particular issue? Look at who’s been writing or speaking or testifying on a topic that speaks to your mission.

 

Before approaching potential board candidates, do your homework—define the qualifications, requirements and rewards that come with the job. And be sure there’s a commitment to the spirit and substance of your nonprofit mission. Ideally, boards operate with a structure: nominating committees, and terms, and a plan for rotating off and bringing on new members. But many nonprofits don’t have that structure in place and they need it. 

 

Some nonprofit boards have been waylaid by board members who joined without any of these considerations. When it came time to turn to the board for guidance or real participation, these “because my friend asked me” members were nowhere to be found.

 

Your organization would conduct a thoughtful and robust search for a new executive director or senior staff member. Right? You should do no less in finding, recruiting, qualifying and “hiring” a new member of your board.

 

Thomas Boyd is Chief Editorial Consultant for The Grantsmanship Center

and an independent consultant to nonprofit organizations.

 

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