Choosing, Qualifying, and Engaging Board Members

In 32+ years of working with nonprofit boards, I have found very, very few boards that function at the level of the expectation of the leader and even their own expectation for high functioning. We have created and replicated systems that are not working, so it’s time to change the paradigm.

First of all only place people on your board of directors who have a commitment to serving in an active capacity and those who agree to the triple commitment of 1) Donate your Time; 2) Donate your Skill; 3) Donate your Money. Many times 

Next, find out what your board candidates are interested in. They will be more active if they are connecting with their interests, skills, and passions.

When you created your overall plan for your nonprofit (you do have a plan, right?) you listed competencies needed to achieve your goals. Now it’s time to find people to fill those competencies on the board. You want to consider the following skills when looking for board members:

  • Legal
  • Accounting
  • Writing
  • PR and Marketing
  • Branding
  • Fundraising
  • Skills Specific to the work of the organization
  • Communications
  • Networking
  • Event Planning

Next, make a list of all the people who might qualify and appoint a nominating team of 3 to 4 people to review this list and qualify the applicants and then prioritize which of them to ask first, etc.

It’s a good idea to appoint a nominating committee that works year-round and not just before your annual meeting when you approve new board members. It’s good to have several people working on the list of candidates to present to the board for approval. Typically, you will vote on new board members at the annual meeting along with approving the budget, strategy update, and program or work. Then you should have a new board member orientation and assimilation process.

Board member chair committees, project teams, or projects with every board member being on at least one committee. The committees are not, however, limited to board members only. This is a good chance to allow others to assist in the work of the organization and to test out which of these could be potential board members in the future.

By the way, it’s good to write an “ask” for those approaching potential board members, so there is consistency in the conversation. Sometimes people say that it’s not much work because they think that the candidate they are approaching is very busy and will say no. Busy people choose to be busy and choose to do things that are important to them and to do things that make a difference. So, it’s critical to ask for a commitment of time, talent, and money.

The board is responsible for governance and financial oversight and not for running the day-to-day actives of the organization. Choosing the right staff is important for running the nonprofit and that person reports to the board who has approved the contract for the employee and the program of work.

More important information in the next sessions. 

Additional Resources:

  • links to sites or downloads

Leave A Comment