Action-Driven Board Recruitment & Engagement
Commitment to mission is the top criteria and motivator for board involvement and membership among existing board members of non-profits according to a 2010 survey by BoardSource. Executive Directors also rank mission-affinity very high in seeking board members.
However, the most effective board recruitment to further the mission should be oriented towards what a board member can do, given his or her capabilities and expertise, to address specific pressing needs of the organization. As the CEO of the California Association of Nonprofits Jan Masaoka writes, “Ditch your board composition matrix.” On her Blue Avocado web site she advises us to focus on actions needed.
Achieving a Leadership Board
Board development is an ongoing challenge for mission-driven organizations. Recruiting and engaging a leadership board takes commitment, understanding and involvement of all parties—board, staff, volunteers, and supporters.
The achievement of a balanced, diverse and proactive board requires a much longer incubation and fulfillment period than expected, minimally six months to a year to get started. A key to a successful board development program is the leadership, governance knowledge and objectivity of the nominating committee. If the nominating committee is weak, the process will falter.
An action-driven approach to board development will look at the specific needs and challenges of the organization as a guide to identifying and approaching board prospects, keeping in mind that affinity to mission is always a sine qua non.
A Basic Situational Review
Similar to the process of strategic planning, a board recruitment and engagement effort requires a review of the basics, i.e., what is the mission, what are the long range priorities, and what are the most daunting challenges? Responses to these questions by board and staff will guide the identification of board prospects.
Launch a Board Development Program
The Strategic Management Exchange recommends launching a board development initiative with a set of interactive board/staff sessions.
Session 1. Have board members and staff review with each other the mission, their motivation for serving on the board, successes of board and staff in carrying out the mission, identification of the major challenges to the future of the organization. This process will generate specific volunteer, project and program opportunities for new and current board members where they can play a key role
Session 2. Board and staff will identify from their network of relationships persons who may have an affinity for the mission combined with experience, ability, and connections which would allow the board prospect to bring influence and support to bear on the challenges and opportunities facing the organization.
For assistance in facilitating board development planning sessions, contact Robert E. Miss email@example.com
Board Recruitment and Engagement Process
The board charges the nominating committee, assisted by senior staff, with the supervision of the process of cultivating, approaching, vetting, and recommending the approval of new board members. Prospects may be suggested by board members, volunteers, community supporters.
Role of the Nominating Committee
• Manage term limits and anticipate board vacancies.
• Evaluate the performance of the board and make recommendations to the chair.
• Establish clear criteria for prospective board members, based organizational needs, challenges and opportunities. (See sessions above.)
• Review and research suggested board candidates identified by board members and others.
• Screen and interview board applicants to be presented for board approval.
Tools & Materials for Board Recruitment & Engagement
*Checklist for Processing Prospective Board Candidates
*Board Membership Criteria
*Sample Board Member Orientation Outline
*These materials are available gratis. Contact Robert E. Miss firstname.lastname@example.org