Skip the Sleight of Hand When Recruiting Board Members

Is your organization recruiting new board members with promises of “only a little bit of work,” or “you don’t really need to come to all the meetings?” And is everyone disappointed when board members fail to participate fully and really engage in your fundraising efforts?

It’s time to connect the dots. While the old bait-and-switch might work on a 3-year old at dinnertime, steer clear of using this tactic with prospective board members. Recruiting practices like these are a no-no, or you’ll pay the price later, for sure.

The root of the problem here is that many people involved with nonprofits still don’t think of board service as a professional activity. And, in fairness, nonprofit board members don’t always act like professionals!

But the news is out – both nonprofit fundraising and board service have become much more professionalized over the past decade, and there are even entire organizations dedicated to educating and training nonprofit boards to achieve their full potential.

Give board recruitment as much thought, planning and strategy as you would any other component of your professional work. You are not recruiting a Saturday afternoon kickball league here – this is your board we’re talking about – the governing body of your organization!

So, skip the bait-and-switch and follow these 3 tips instead:

Be clear about expectations up front

Write down your expectations for board service in a board member job description document. Share this job description with potential board candidates – just as you would in hiring for a salaried position.

Be open to nontraditional candidates

Everyone wants the big company CEO on their board. Surprise! CEOs are extraordinarily busy and don’t often make great board members. Be open to considering a corporate up and comer, someone a few rungs down the chain of command from the CEO with more time to give. Or a non-career person who has lived in your community for a long time and knows everything about everyone.

Accept “No” as an answer

If a board candidate hems and haws about being too busy, or is wishy washy about making a commitment, let them go. Your time is too precious to spend chasing the uncommitted.

What are your thoughts about recruiting board members? Please share your experiences, thoughts and ideas in the Comments box below!

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