The alternative title for these tasks might be “it’s more than warm bodies.” If you desire a great board with well-attended, well-run strategic-focused meetings then consider the following:
- A small number of high-performing, well-connected directors is more important than many members who know little and no one.
- It’s not enough to know why you want someone to serve. You also need to understand why they want to serve.
- To recruit the right people requires being honest and candid about the organizations strengths, weaknesses, opportunities & threats. If you can’t easily articulate your SWOT I suggest you figure it out before you start talking to people.
- Friends & family generally make poor board members. They’re either overly critical or rubber-stamp your every decision.
- It’s important to get references from people you trust on prospective board members. How someone performs in other areas of their life can be telling as to how they’ll perform on your board.
- A prospective board member’s skills and talents need to satisfy the organization’s needs. It’s not enough that they believe in the organization’s mission. It’s unlikely you will be able to “plug them in” somewhere. I just joined a small nonprofit’s board. Two of us have substantial financial management skills. The board needs to be reorganized. I would suggest what it doesn’t need is anymore financial types.
- Once you’ve recruited new board members help them get acclimated quickly. Provide a board manual, orientation and perhaps assign an experienced board member to be their “buddy” for the first few board meetings.
Recruiting good board members is as critical as recruiting senior staff. There is a lot to lose if you have a board “miss hire”.
Susan C. Hammond, principal of scHammond Advisors , consults with nonprofits on board governance, strategic planning, improving financial intelligence, and the formation of advisory boards or councils. She is an advisor, coach, consultant and author. Susan recently published the Advisory Board Kit: A Comprehensive Guide to Establishing an Advisory Board.
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