Strategies to Recruit and Retain High-Performing Nonprofit Board Members Volunteers – Article 3 in a Series »Board and volunteer recruitment and retention are essential to any nonprofit organization. Board members and volunteers can make or break a nonprofit organization. The goal is for these individuals to make – NOT break. In a five-part series, I am honored to share with you my top five tips for recruiting and retaining high-performing board members and volunteers.
My second tip is to be selective with prospective board members.
Following are key points to keep in mind:
- There are nonprofit organizations that have one criterion for board membership – the individual has to be able to breath. That is unacceptable.
- Nonprofit organizations should want the best board members, and they should not apologize for it.
- You want to be selective to be sure you do not recruit the wrong people. If you do, it will be hard to get them off the board.
- Following are qualities you should seek in prospective board members:
- Hard working
- However, there are some prospective board members you should avoid at all costs. If you encounter them, you should “Run, Forrest, run.” Examples are bigots, womanizers, those who are mean-spirited, those who are all talk and no action and those who have been part of scandals.
- If you do not avoid these types of people, their problems and “drama” will eventually become problems and drama for your nonprofit organization.
- You should have a good idea of your organizational gaps and needs before recruiting new board members. For example, if you need high-performing accounting, law and marketing experts on your board, recruiting them to your board should be a top priority.
- If you need high-performing women, millennials and people of color on your board, recruiting them to your board should be a top priority.
- Your nominating committee should be comprised of your best board members. Low-performing board members should not serve on this committee, because they have not earned that privilege. Also, you do not want your low-performing board members to inadvertently or purposely attract low-performing prospective board members.
- To help ensure you are recruiting high-performing board members, you should require them to apply for membership. If they believe they are “too good” to apply, you do not want or need them. If they are “too good” to apply, chances are they will be “too good” to serve your nonprofit organization.
- After your nominating committee reviews the applications of prospective board members, they should decide if they should be invited to an interview. Never appoint someone to your nonprofit organization board without interviewing him or her first.
- During the interview, members of the nominating committee should take turns asking questions.
- Following are examples of the types of questions, prospective board members should be asked:
- Why do you want to serve on this board?
- If you are appointed to the board, what types of accomplishments will you help us to achieve within two years?
- Please tell us about your fundraising experience.
- What do enjoy the most about fundraising? What do you enjoy the least about fundraising?
- Please tell us about a time that you demonstrated courage in a professional or board setting.
- When the prospective board member leaves the interview, the nominating committee should discuss the interview and determine if they should recommend this person to the full board. Candidates who do not receive the support of the majority of the nominating committee should NOT be recommended for membership on the full board.
- With my nonprofit board, we have interviewed individuals and declined to appoint them to the board.
- Your nominating committee and nonprofit board should not take a rubberstamp approach to recruiting board members. Have the courageous to make tough decisions, and do what is best for your nonprofit organization.
- The full board should be asked to vote on ALL prospective board members.
I recommend that you:
- Google prospective board members to learn more about them
- Find out if you know some of the same people and ask those people about the prospective board members
- Avoid recruiting prospective board members if too many “red flags” pop up
- Refrain from recruiting professional fundraisers and politicians to your nonprofit organizations board to avoid conflicts of interest
What recommendations would you like to share?