Are you looking to fill some vacancies on your non-profit board of directors? Are you worried that half of the board seats will be vacant when the terms of current board members end? Guidestar, a non-profit organization reporting service, polled their members in 2006 to find the best ways to find board members for non-profit organizations. The most offered piece of advice was, “look for someone who is passionate about your cause.” That’s a pretty good answer, but let’s break it down into 10 actionable steps.
1) Recruit from Your Existing Volunteer Pool
Have you considered that some of your volunteers may be interested in a board position? It’s possible that none of them have stepped forward because no one ever asked them. It’s also possible that they have concerns about being able to perform their duties well.
Host an informational session about what it takes to be a board member and encourage all volunteers to attend. Ask all current board members to attend and say a few words about what a rewarding experience it is to serve on a board.
Invite viable candidates to a board meeting as special guests. Give an oral acknowledgement of the volunteer’s contributions to the organization at the meeting.
Ask prospective board candidates to chair a committee, where they will need to make a presentation of the committee’s work to the full board. The more direct interaction they have with your board, the more likely they will be willing to join the board.
2) Become Part of Your Donors’ Network
Do some research to find out more about the events and initiatives of your donors. Make an effort to become involved in activities that are important to them.
When the time is right, ask them to join your board. If they politely decline for any reason, ask who they would recommend as a good addition to your board.
3) Take Recommendations and Nominations from Current Board Members
Ask each current board member to recommend at least one new board member recruit. Hold a little friendly competition between board members. Give a nice prize, like a shirt with the non-profit’s logo on it, to the person that offers up the most recommendations.
4) Identify Someone that Represents the Reason Your Non-Profit Was Founded
Having a diverse board means more than accepting board members of differing backgrounds, ethnicities, cultures, and gender. For boards of directors of non-profit organizations, diversity means adding someone to the board that offers a first-person perspective of why the non-profit exists.
For example, if your board supports cancer awareness, a cancer survivor rounds out the board nicely. NAMI, the National Alliance on Mental Illness requires that a person living with mental illness is elected to the board as part of their governance structure. People that benefit from your work often have some of the best insight and ideas for your work.
5) Go Viral with Social Media
Your members and other stakeholders are already reading your newsletters, email correspondence communications, and announcements.
Use social media channels to let them know that the board is actively looking for new board members. Put it out there on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and write about it on a blog.
6) Ask Board Members to Take a Board Development Workshop
Find out which organizations offer board development workshops in your area. Look for civic organizations like the chamber of commerce, United Way, or senior businessmen that teach classes on creating effective board leadership. The leaders can be helpful in linking volunteers with organizations that need boards of directors.
7) Designate a Website for Board Recruitment
Websites and blogs are so easy to set up and many of them are completely free. Put up a page or an entire website that boasts content about the rewards of serving on a board of directors. Link it to your non-profit’s home page.
Share some basic information about what the board duties are and how much time it takes to serve on your board. Add lots of photos of board members enjoying themselves at events.
8) Use Search Interactive Tools to Pull Up a Batch of Candidates
Created a LinkedIn business account for your non-profit organization, if you don’t have one already. The premium version costs a little, but the Advanced Search function lets you pull up a world of talent in your industry.
The Taproot Foundation is in the business of finding volunteers and matching them with organizations that need them. They’ll set you up with a one-hour session with a subject matter expert to help you formulate a plan for finding the right board members.
9) Tap the Millennial Talent
Make an appointment with the department head of a local college or university and ask to have college interns that are majoring in your field channeled to you for volunteer work. Students often need work or volunteer experience to complete their degrees.
Seek out Young Professional organizations in your community and draw from their membership. Some businesses have their own industry-specific Young Professional groups.
Make a request to speak or give a presentation at one of these groups to talk about your non-profit and generate excitement about a young professional joining the board.
10) Host a Volunteer Fair
Arrange a volunteer fair event where you invite all members, friends, family, and members of the community to learn more about your non-profit. Ask committees to set up a display table and ask committee members to be present to explain their work. Every attendee that comes to a volunteer fair is a prospective board candidate.
Need a free event space? Libraries often offer free meeting space for such events.
It’s unlikely that board candidates will come knocking on your door voluntarily, but that doesn’t mean that they are difficult to find. You will almost certainly find a few among your current cadre of volunteers. Your local community and business networks also have contacts of volunteers that are passionate about causes. Don’t negate the opportunity to train and mentor students and young people about the rewards of working for a non-profit organization.
Your future board members are waiting in the wings. All you have to do is ask them to take center stage to fill the role of your new board director.