How do I recruit new board members to my nonprofit?
Answered by: Ben Bullock

Recruiting the right board members is sometimes more of an art than a science. The first step is to get the current board to accept responsibility for this goal. The staff, including executive director, cannot be overly involved in this, to the point that they are themselves selecting board members. That is ultimately unhealthy for the organization.

Many boards establish a standing nominations committee to handle the process of board recruitment, and some, like SCANPO, have instead a governance committee that is not only responsible for recruiting board members, but for minding the activities of the board itself and looking for ways to improve the board’s leadership.

Ultimately, once you’ve got the current board to take responsibility and formed a nominations committee, you’ll want them to decide what qualities or qualifications that board needs to have, what they currently have, and what they need. Most organizations develop a matrix.

That said, they should not feel beholden to the matrix. Ultimately, you are not looking for folks who just meet certain criteria but who can do certain work and do it well. Jan Masaoka, a well-known nonprofit guru and head of our sister organization in California, explains this very well in an article for Blue Avocado magazine.

Ultimately, you’ll want to do a big call for nominations through whatever networks you have at your disposal, among your client population, to your consultants, partner agencies, etc. From there, your committee can narrow it down and do interviews of the finalists and make recommendations to the full board.

Also, consider if your organization has a current strategic plan. That will be a big help in figuring out what sort of folks the board needs.