Let me start by saying that before you focus on board member recruitment, you need a standing committee on governance and leadership development. If you don’t, read this or this first.
OK, now we are on the same page and everyone understands the importance of a standing committee on governance and leadership development. Among the ten basic responsibilities of board members is one that states thatthe board should “replace itself.” But, board member recruitment means that you have to continually generate and explore prospects for leadership roles in the organization as well as for potential board members. Here are 8 ideas for your committee to test out:
- Consider your constituents/members. One of the life lessons we are learning from the upcoming mid-term elections is that people seem to want to be represented by people who look and act like themselves. Board member recruitment should include representatives of your work. Members, current/former beneficiaries, or program participants can all be considered.
- Think about who has reached out to you. People who are looking to get more involved but first want to peek behind the scenes at a nonprofit will often reach out to you. They will invite the Executive Director or another staff member for coffee or to meet up. It might be after an event, “I will be at pancake breakfast with my kids, can we talk for a few minutes about this idea I had for a wine tasting event.” Whether or not you want to add a wine tasting is irrelevant – that person is thinking about how to help your nonprofit. And that is a good indicator that they may want a deeper involvement.
- Look at your committee members. This is a tried and true method of identifying potential board members who are committed to the organization and do what they say they will do.
- Read your donor lists. Now focus in on the cumulative giving lists. If your nonprofit means enough to them to give year after year, they have already demonstrated their passion for your mission and vision.
- Perform a formal search. This will take time and energy, but if you think you have people who would get more involved, if only they were asked to do more than serve pancakes, offer them the opportunity to raise their hands. Put out calls on social media (LinkedIn could be incredibly valuable here), in newsletters or hand written notes to target specific people. List opportunities to join different committees that could use an infusion of new volunteers (read: all committees). Finance, development, events, governance, programs, marketing, and/or membership are all options.
- Ask your current board members who are not on the governance and leadership development committee for suggestions. This may seem obvious, but over time a strong committee might not be soliciting nominations from other board members.
- Look outside the box. Contact local organizations that train board members (e.g., United Ways) or look online to nonprofit board recruitment sites.
- Talk to your current volunteers. Some volunteers want to help a day here or there with no long-term commitment. But, if you ask your volunteer coordinator who the most reliable volunteers are, there will be obvious answers.
Of course, once you identify candidates, the next step is to research them. But I will save that for another article on board member recruitment.