Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Recruiting and Retaining The Right Board Members for your Nonprofit Board – Part I

Guest blog post written by Jeanne Drake Ward of Jeanne Ward Consulting.

I’m excited to get into more detail to help you recruit and retain the right board members! Previously I gave an overview of certain steps your board can take to ensure that you are recruiting and then retaining candidates who are the best fit for your nonprofit board. This week, we will speak in some more detail about Step 1 - Assess. When conducting an initial assessment of your board, on a broad scale, it is important to determine the status of your organization as well as to decide the specific needs of your board.

It is important to determine the current STATUS of your organization. If you need guidance in categorizing or determining the size of your nonprofit, Karen Zapp does a nice job of defining nonprofit organizational sizes.

I recommend using the below 3 examples to begin to think about the status of your organization
and board.
1. Are you a startup Nonprofit Organization (NPO)? This will require your board to function more as a “Founding Board” which requires different efforts from your board members than an existing, veteran board. Your founding board may be expected to do more of the work to create the organizational structure of the NPO in collaboration with the executive director. A veteran board would not have as many of these expectations as the foundation or blueprint of the organization has been established.

2. Are you a small NPO? Similar to a founding board, the board of a small organization may have to participate more often in taking steps toward actions such as creating policy and procedures or creating ‘working committees’ to complete work on necessary projects that the organization needs. Such work will help the organization to reach their set goals.

3. Are you a veteran NPO (larger is size and budget and have existed for a longer period of time)? The board of a veteran NPO should be more stable and have routine practices for their meeting schedules, fundraising events, work with partner organizations and their marketing in the community. Such boards may not require as much from their board members in terms of ‘hands-on work’. Some veteran boards will recruit board members who have particular status in the community or who will strictly provide funding to the organization.

Some boards use a theory similar to the below table to determine their board member characteristics. How do you assess your board members’ characteristics?

Another important step in assessment is to determine your organization’s and your board's NEEDS as well as to determine the priorities. It is helpful to keep in mind that the purpose of a nonprofit board is to govern rather than manage. Doing some level of strategic planning will assist your organization in determining your current needs and priorities. It is also important to consider the members currently on your board. What are their skills and strengths? What type of individuals would you like and need to have on your board to make up for skills and strengths that are currently absent? Do you need people with educational experience, people with financial expertise, someone who is well respected in the community who can assist with fundraising, etc.? As you continue to think about your organization's needs, determine how your board members, as individuals as well as the whole group, will support the stated goals. I hope this has helped you begin to think about where your organization and your board are at. We will next review where you want to be. I look forward to speaking with you to review
Step 2 - Plan.

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