As the leader of a newly organized nonprofit, you're anxious to start changing the world.
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But that's not going to happen until you get out there and find qualified people who are willing to become your organization's initial board of directors.
When recruiting a board of directors, the biggest mistake you can make is to quickly fill the board with unqualified people simply to fulfill the legal requirements. Your weird uncle may be willing to sit on the board, but what skills or resources would he bring to the organization? If the answer is none, then he's probably not a good candidate - no matter how willing he is to lend a hand.
The best board candidates are people who are capable of advancing the organization's goals and have enough time in their schedule to meet the demands of active board involvement. Remember: It is illegal for nonprofit board members to be compensated for their services, so you're going to have to emphasize non-monetary rewards in your pitch. Start by developing a job description that includes the anticipated time commitment and the difference your organization will make in the community or world. Then start looking for energetic individuals who can bring one or more of the following resources and characteristics to the table . . .
A board of directors can be a reservoir of knowledge in a wide variety of subject areas - provided you have recruited the right people.
The trick is to recruit a diverse cross-section of individuals, but to focus on those who possess expertise things that will directly benefit the organization.
First and foremost, your board should contain some members who have experience in your organization's core competency. Additionally, you should be on the lookout for candidates with legal, accounting, marketing, fundraising, and even human resource backgrounds. The area in which your organization is weakest is usually the area in which you should be looking for your next addition to the board.
It's not what you know, it's who you know, right?
Connections matter when it comes to nonprofit board additions. Ideally, you are looking for someone who has expertise the organization can use and is well-connected in the community.
Since your board of directors will provide the impetus for your organization's fundraising efforts, it's important to consider each candidate's ability to attract donors to your cause. If given the choice between a board member with deep pockets and a board member who is influential with a dozen other people with deep pockets, the smart choice is to choose the individual with connections instead of the one with a big bank account.
Passion is the most important quality you are looking for in potential board members.
You are starting a nonprofit organization because you believe you can make a difference. Why settle for anything less in the people who will work alongside you to make your nonprofit a success?
Experienced nonprofit leaders agree that the most effective board members are frequently not the most knowledgeable or most well-connected people in the organization, but the most passionate about their cause. Regardless of how good a candidate looks on paper, if they don't have as much passion as you do, keep looking until you find someone who does.