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Board Member Recruitment
Attracting the right board members to your organization can increase the effectiveness of your board.Whether your organization adds to its board at your annual meeting or each fall, attracting the right person is critical.
Volunteer boards have so many tasks that recruiting new members may seem overwhelming. It is important to remember that these individuals will be representing your board, accountable for implementing your strategic plan, managing finances and possibly running operations on a day-to-day basis.
Developing a recruitment plan will:
fill any “gaps” that you may have in board skills
ensure that new board members are well-qualified and suited to your board
help you get to know the new member(s)
develop immediate rapport with any potential board members
prevent selecting individuals who do not fit with the values of the board
develop a consistent process that can be used in future
At the beginning stages of the board, it is often the board or committee members that suggest new members. Established boards often have a nomination or board development committee, that is appointed by the board. This often includes a past chair that understands the needs of the organization. Such committees are most effective if they are standing committees that act throughout the year.
It is a good idea to have the structure of your nominating committee as part of your bylaws.Most importantly, the nominating committee needs clear guidelines and individuals who are dedicated to establishing and following a clear plan of recruitment.
Searching for new board members is a strategic activity, and a skills assessment of the board may be helpful. A nominating committee should ask the following questions:
What is the strategic plan of the board?
Does your strategic plan require any particular skills to move it forward?
Who currently sits on the board and what skills do they have?
What are the gaps in skills?
Recruiting volunteers is much like hiring for a paid position.To recruit the right volunteer, your organization requires a job description that includes tasks, responsibilities, skills needed and obligations of the position.
The right choice for your board and your new board members
First, it is a good idea to develop a list of individuals that may be a good fit for your board. Dalhousie University provides suggestions for how you should approach potential board members in Your Board's Recruitment Package.
Once you have found someone to fill a role on your board, and once they have agreed, the process continues. A board orientation provides new board members with information they need to carry out and be successful in their new role in the organization. The purpose of a board member orientation is to:
share the organization's vision and mission with new members
inform new members of duties and expectations
guide new members in how to complete their duties and available resources
enhance communication between the new members and existing board
Developing a board manual will help with orientation by keeping all the essential information for new board members in one place. This Board Manual Template (DOC 26 KB) details what you may want to include and will get you started.
While a new board recruit should have this information package, it is most important to develop a mentorship program, where they can gain information and ask questions of those who have experience.
Organizations are continually in need of new board members.However if you develop a recruitment process, that is included in your monthly meetings, you will always have qualified and committed individuals to carry on the mission of your board.
Succession planning is an ongoing process of identifying, assessing and developing people to ensure continuity for the board and organization. Succession planning requires that boards be proactive rather than reactive.