Finding the Best Board Members for Your Nonprofit

by Mary Varano

By Al Harsar

Developing an efficient nonprofit board of directors doesn’t need to be difficult. Most boards thrive on diversity of experience and background, which often results in a dynamic environment fueled by differing opinions and talents. Still, there are certain skills, personality traits and perspectives that will affect a board’s synchronicity and effectiveness.

Before embarking on board development, make sure you and your team are clear on your nonprofit’s vision and mission. It’s critical that you’re able to set clear expectations with potential board members throughout the interviewing and selection process so everyone is aligned and moving in the same direction.

Here are the top strategies nonprofit leaders can use to find the best board members for their organization.

Know Where to Look for Nonprofit Board Members

It’s important that board members have a passion for your nonprofit’s cause, but it’s vital that you expand your recruiting efforts to include people with a variety of backgrounds.

Leverage all parts of your network, including:

  • Dedicated and active volunteers
  • Longstanding donors
  • Recommendations from current board members or staff
  • Community leaders and business persons
  • Local organizations or volunteer centers

Any of these options have potential board member candidates whose personal values already align with your nonprofit’s mission and values.

Focus on Key Traits of Potential Nonprofit Board Members

As you’re identifying board member candidates, the vetting process can begin. Not every donor or volunteer will make a great board member. Assess how a candidate’s skills might fit into achieving your mission and make sure every candidate has these three traits:

  • Open-mindedness: A board cannot collaborate and make viable decisions without objective discussion. With so many differing opinions coming into play, board members need to be open-minded and empower one another to find solutions.
  • Forward-thinking: Over the long term, it’s advantageous to have board members who think outside of the box. Growing a specific cause means thinking ahead, envisioning change and seeking innovations, which forward-thinking individuals will intrinsically do.
  • Respectful: While this may seem obvious, it is impossible to work together as a board if the members do not show respect for one another and work for the greater mission.

If a candidate has the skills, passion, and these three traits, it’s definitely someone to seriously consider nominating to your nonprofits board.

Keep Your Pipeline Full of Potential Nonprofit Board Members

Recruiting board member for your nonprofit doesn’t end when every seat is filled. It’s essential to make board recruitment an ongoing priority. A group of trusted advisors can continue to examine the skills that should be represented on the board. This advisory board can keep an ongoing list of qualified individuals who may be contacted in the event of a current board member’s departure. Boards can also appoint a board development committee which includes members of the board and other like minded individuals in the community.  Having a permanent advisory board or development committee for this purpose – ideally involving the organization’s most well-connected members – will guarantee that the pipeline is always full.

Nonprofit Board Strategies Find the Best for Your Nonprofit

At the core of every effective board are individuals who share a commitment to and a passion for the nonprofit’s mission. When your team looks in the right places for candidates who have the right skills and traits, your nonprofit can find members who are aligned with your unique mission and can be instrumental to its future success.

 Corrigan Krause Can Help

Corrigan Krause’s Nonprofit team can help your nonprofit meet challenges head on. If you’re interested in becoming a Corrigan Krause client, email info@corrigankrause.comTo learn more about our team and to join our nonprofit newsletter, click here.