Recruiting Nonprofit Board Members (The Easy Way!)

by Sandra Pfau Englund on Nov 11, 2019

When you start a nonprofit, one of the vital tasks is recruiting nonprofit board members. Meaning that the people who serve can make or break your charity. As a result, you must get the right people to help you. Good intentions are not enough. As an example, one national nonprofit recruited well-intentioned people. But, as passionate as all of the more than 30 people were, all but one thought their only job was to raise money. 

Recruiting nonprofit board members is one of the most important decisions that any leader makes. Before setting out on the recruitment task, a leader needs to understand the responsibilities of a nonprofit board. There are three duties for nonprofit board members. First is the duty of care, which means board members have to make informed decisions for the group. Second, board members have a duty of loyalty, which means they have to have the interests of the nonprofit above their own. And third, board members have a duty of obedience, which means they have to comply with all laws and regulations.

When nonprofit leaders understand these vital tasks, moving to create a strong board recruitment effort is next. The following easy ideas will help you ensure success.

Creating a Program for Recruiting Nonprofit Board Members

Start by thinking about your current needs. By doing so, you'll have the chance to review the ideal profile of your new board members. Take a look at the 4C's of your group, which include culture, character, competence, and connections. Once you have thought about those elements, you can move to create a program. 

1) Take a look at your current board and needs

You want to ensure that you have a diverse group of people with different talents. The most effective boards have a group of people with experience in finance, operations, law, marketing, fundraising, and programs. Think about the needs of your group and the expertise that may be missing to ensure that you get people who have the talents and experience your group needs.

2) The essential committee for nonprofit board recruitment

While recruiting nonprofit board members is vital for your group, so is board development. Therefore, instead of merely creating a nominating committee for your board, consider a nominating and board development committee. This committee is tasked to not only find the right people for your board but also with ensuring that your board knows what it's supposed to do. Each year, the committee can bring in an outside trainer, for instance, that can go through board governance and responsibilities. Remember, most people do not know what it means to serve a nonprofit board.

3) Chair and committee descriptions

Every committee of your nonprofit board should have clear descriptions of their job. Your program for recruiting nonprofit board members will go smoother if you're clear about the role of recruits. Most nonprofit boards have the following committees: executive, finance, audit,  fundraising, programs, and others, depending on the size of the group. Clarity is one of the ingredients for success. Therefore, ensure board members understand the responsibilities of each committee and the chairs.

4) Create nonprofit board policies

An essential part of a program for recruiting nonprofit board members is to be clear on policies. Remember, more than likely, your board is a governing board. So, again, they must understand everything concerning service to your nonprofit. One vital best practice is to develop board policies, which inform all board members of different—but critical—topics. For instance, the policies should speak to the benefits and responsibilities. It should speak to the board's authority, terms of service, and any legal and financial (i.e., donating) duties they may have in their service. Many groups provide board members with a board manual, which is updated each year with any new policy changes.

5) Nonprofit board recruitment opportunities

Finally, when you've got your committee, descriptions, and policies in order, it's time to get to recruiting nonprofit board members. Remember, you want to ensure a diverse group because it's right for your nonprofit. Meaning, it brings together different points of view, which strengthens the running of your nonprofit. Also, consider that there are many opportunities for board recruitment. For instance, ask your current board members for the names of people whom they think would be a good fit. Also, your nonprofit donor base could potentially bring you names of community leaders who support your cause and may make a great addition to the board. And, don't forget that there are several great tools for nonprofit recruitment, such as VolunteerMatch.



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