Sep 22, 2010

Bringing in New Nonprofit Board Members: The Nominating Committee Approach

Finding productive, skilled, and at least in some cases, moneyed board members is an ongoing challenge for every nonprofit. So I wanted to share the positive experience a friend of mine recently had. She was one of approximately 40 people who served on a nominating committee for a nonprofit seeking new board members. (I'll put this in her words for simplicity's sake, but, full disclosure and all, I'm paraphrasing based on my memory.)

"This happens to be an organization I really respect -- and would even like to serve on the board of myself, if I had any spare time. Why did I agree  to make time to attend the meeting? A friend of mine, who's already on the board, contacted me about it personally, so how could I refuse?

"The organization made it quite clear that the purpose of the meeting wasn't to ask us for money. They were looking for community movers and shakers who'd agree to consider what their organization does, and supply names and contact information for people who'd make good board members.

"The meeting itself was very well organized. We went around the room for brief introductions, watched some videos about the organization's work -- a great reminder of why we'd want to facilitate others getting involved  with it -- and then heard from the E.D. about what exactly they're looking for in new board members. That included community diversity, connections, an interest in fundraising, and more.

Toward the end, we were each given a form to fill out, where we'd provide the names of two prospective board members, along with an indication of whether we'd be willing to make the first overture. Toward the bottom were questions about whether we ourselves might be interested in board membership, and if not, whether we'd like to become further involved in the organization in other ways.

"I came away from the meeting with renewed respect for this organization. They'd respected my time (the meeting ended just when it said it would) and created an efficient process for bringing in new volunteer help. I'll bet they get some great new board members as a result."

Sounds like a model worth copying!