Non-Profit Board Recruitment. In non-profit circles, these two words can raise stress levels, cause anxiety, and send ripples echoing across the non-profit halls from the Executive Directors office to the Board room.
Board recruitment is a Board of Directors responsibility, often tasked to a Board Recruitment Committee. While it is easy to let this responsibility slide to the Executive Director or to tackle it willy-nilly, it is not recommended.
Board recruitment must be approached strategically to bring your board to life and get true engagement. Here are six steps to board recruitment that will help you strengthen the capacity of your board, ensure you bring the right people on board, and improve board engagement.
1. Know what skills and expertise you need on your board. Finding the right people to fill the vacancies on your board is essential. Before considering recruitment, create a matrix of your current board’s skills and expertise and record how long they can remain a Board member (check your bylaws for this information).
What skill and expertise gaps exist currently? What gaps will exist in 1 or 2 years?
Consider upcoming initiatives. Are specific skills needed? If so, what?
Who on your board may resign at the next AGM? Who is committed to staying?
2. Mine your current board and their network for potential recruits. Lay out what skills and expertise are needed, what positions are coming up, and what opportunities are for recruits to become engaged. Invite your Board members to help identify potential recruits for the Recruitment Committee to connect with.
Who do you know with the following skills…?
Do you know anyone passionate about …?
Who in your network is considering volunteering in the community? Are they a good fit for our organization?
3. Post a recruitment ad on community bulletin boards/newspapers/social media, through your networks, and ask stakeholders to share the recruitment poster among their colleagues and friends… Share. Share. Share. Be proactive. Speak about it, make announcements at events you go to, and call past Board members to see if they know someone who might be interested. As you talk to people, even if they say they aren’t interested, ask them if they know someone who might be. Get the contact information.
4. Reach out to the potential recruits to discuss the opportunity. If the potential recruit is a contact of an existing Board member, have them make the introduction, and then the Recruitment Committee can continue the conversation. Assign specific people to reach out to particular individuals. Talk to potential recruits about the Board, what’s involved, the commitment, and why they would be interested in becoming involved. Sell. Sell. Sell the benefits of becoming a board member.
5. Conduct formal interviews with potential recruits who are interested. Ask them about their experience, what they hope to contribute to the board, what they hope to gain from being involved, what their passion is about the Board’s work, how much time they can commit, etc. Don’t be shy. Consider this a job interview. You want to ensure you bring the BEST recruits on board: Those who fill gaps in skills and expertise, who have solid connections in the community, who want to become actively engaged in doing committee work, or answering specific questions related to their expertise.
6. Make your selections and invite new recruits to the Board. Please provide them with an orientation package (bylaws, strategic plan, and other essential documents), conduct an onboarding session (see BLOG 1 above (add link)), host a meet-and-greet, assign them a mentor, and be available to answer questions. Treat them like GOLD and give them various opportunities to contribute meaningfully.
This recruitment process doesn’t have to be cumbersome; it can be fluid. Board recruitment can occur year-round if you keep your eyes and ears open and consistently know current and future board recruitment needs. When you come across a potential board member mid-year, engage them: invite them to board meetings, invite them to work on a committee, be upfront about when the position will start and stay in touch regularly.
When a Board approaches board recruitment strategically, greater board diversity is achieved regarding skill, expertise, perspectives, and community connections – all of which lead to positive board dynamics.