Question: On a scale of 1 – 10, how important is a nonprofit board of directors?
If building a strong board is tantamount to running a healthy, vibrant and successful nonprofit organization, how do we build a dynamic board?
While the answer is complex, there are strategies you can use to enhance your success.
1) Identify your organization’s needs. Look for a tool or establish a method that will help in the evaluation of the board’s make-up as it relates to the Board structure and organizational needs. Some of the areas of focus will likely be finance, fundraising, marketing, human resources, program participants or folks who utilize your organization’s services.
2. Evaluate your current board to see if they fulfill these criteria and if not, identify the gaps.
Now that you’ve identified gaps where do you look for potential Board Members?
3. Review donor lists. Someone who is giving financial support to your organization clearly has a passion for the work you do and having a passion for the work is essential for Board members. If someone is a donor and has the skills you are looking for, you may have a great recruit.
4. Utilize the web. LinkedIn has a great tool you can use to “search for a skill” or “experience you need” for your nonprofit. You can also post your volunteer opportunity.
5. Don’t necessarily look at someone who serves on many boards. Do look to see who has been an effective leader on a board.
6. Develop job descriptions that identify clear expectations. No one likes surprises or wasting time. Does your board have a policies on board giving and board meeting attendance? Are Board members expected to serve on committees? Be up front with recruits. I would rather have someone say “no” to serving on the board then say “yes” and not have a clue about what they are getting into.
7. Consistently provide Board members with organizational information and choose a section to review at periodic Board meetings. Information should include your mission (I am always impressed – and not in a good way – when Board members don’t know an organization’s mission), copy of current budget, most recent strategic plan, annual Board and development calendars.
Now you’ve got them, how do you keep them engaged?
8. Adhere to the Board calendar. Remembering Board meetings should not just be comprised of a report from the E.D. Boards should be setting the organization’s vision, asking questions about the budget and other financial issues, and discussing how they are going to assist in garnering the financial resources to meet the mission.
9. Invite a donor to share why they support your organization or a recipient of services to share their experience to periodic board meetings. This would be the first item on the agenda and after the visitor leaves, engage in a conversation about why the donor gives and possibly, who might also like to give (prospecting) or how could your programs be better, friendlier or easier to access.
Take your time and don’t just fill vacancies; get the right people.
Ready to take your board engagement strategies to the next level? Enroll your board in the Foundational Conversations: Guided Video Discussion Course today.
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