Perfect-fit board members can be a game-changer. They can present new ideas for fundraisers, attract top donors, forge stronger community connections and more. Organizations across all sectors understand the value of recruitment. The staffing and recruiting industry generates $15 billion in economic activity in Canada each year. What’s more, 59% of nonprofits report success in recruiting great board members who are passionate about their mission. To help your organization attract the perfect fit, we offer five ideas on how to get board members.
5 actionable ideas for how to get board members
- Write an accurate description
- Elicit ideas from candidates
- Ask the right questions
- Prioritize your needs
- Ensure a cultural fit
1. Write an accurate description
Just like a job description outlines responsibilities and benefits, a board member description should do the same. How will you define the role? What specific expectations do you have for this position? What skills are required to meet those expectations? And how will this board member fit into the bigger picture and the team as a whole?
In the board member description, be sure to also talk about benefits. What perks come with this role? Remember, just because someone is a great fit for one nonprofit doesn’t automatically mean they will complement yours, so be transparent. How do you envision a perfect-fit candidate finding fulfillment with your organization specifically?
2. Elicit ideas from candidates
Prioritize opportunities for potential board members to talk about why they want to join the board. Options could include providing space for written responses on their initial application or discussing this topic during a phone interview. This step is key to getting perfect-fit board members. What about your organization’s mission resonates with them? What are they hoping to personally learn from being involved? Board members should feel fulfilled and engaged, so welcome any insights they share about what they’re hoping to gain from this role.
Give candidates a small thank-you giveaway to keep your brand top of mind, even if they don’t end up being the perfect fit. Items like a wine bottle tote, 8G flash drive and Mystic Hue Sunglasses work well.
3. Ask the right questions
Provide potential board members plenty of opportunities to ask questions. This paves the way for transparency and open dialogue, both of which are necessary for a successful working relationship. The types of questions applicants ask can provide deeper insights into whether they’re the perfect fit for your organization. Keep in mind that even someone who doesn’t “interview well” may be an amazing board member. If public speaking won’t be part of their role, don’t worry too much if the candidate seems extra nervous or stumbles over their words during the interview.
Questions to ask include:
- What excites you about committing your time and energy to our cause?
- In your opinion, what are the characteristics of a great board member?
- Can you tell us about your experience with fundraising?
- What’s your involvement with the community we serve?
Present interviewees with a small thank-you giveaway, like a Glass Food Container with Bamboo Lid, cookie tin or Value Coffee Mug, as a token of gratitude for their time.
4. Prioritize your needs
Take time to consider your charitable organization’s needs and goals when recruiting a new board member. Do you need them to help bring in more dollars or to make deeper community connections? Are you looking for someone with a strong marketing skillset or who can establish smart operating policies? The perfect-fit board member will be able to meet specific needs to help drive your charitable organization to long-term success.
Evaluate your board for strengths and weaknesses to help determine exact needs. A well-rounded board is key to ensuring your nonprofit continues to grow. Maybe your board is missing industry-specific knowledge, problem-solving expertise or creative thinking skills. Knowing which skills you need can help you prioritize applicants and drive more meaningful conversations during interviews.
5. Ensure a cultural fit
Even if someone has all the necessary skills you’re looking for, if they don’t fit well with your organization’s culture, they’ll likely not work out long term. A great cultural fit ensures your new member will succeed and positively impact your team and organization. Keep in mind that someone who disagrees with current policies or ideas can also be a great cultural fit. After all, a member who isn’t afraid to challenge the status quo can present solutions to problems you might not have known existed. Having a variety of viewpoints can also help make sure your organization doesn’t get stuck in a rut.
Attract top board members
With these ideas on how to get board members, your nonprofit can easily attract the perfect fit to skyrocket your organization far beyond its current goals. Happy recruiting!