PMA Consulting, LLC

Forming a Nonprofit Board

In previous posts, we have given insight on developing your board. However, if you’re an organization that has decided to form a board, what type of steps should be made in order to do so effectively?

At PMA, we work with clients to give them advice throughout the process. Through a series of interviews with comparative organizations and discussions with key stakeholders, we have found some commonalities on how to best form a board. Below are some ideas on how an organization should best approach the process.

How to recruit members

  • Events are a great way to gain engagement and buy-in to your organization.
  • Campaigns, whether it is your annual campaign or a capital project, can help to start conversations and to begin the cultivation of a relationship with your organization.

Channels to recruit board members

  • Your Staff – They know the people who are invested in your organization and can open up conversations with those people.
  • Your Donors – Another source to discover board talent. The donor might want to be on the board or they might know of people who might have interest in your organization.
  • Other Stakeholders – Such as corporate sponsors or vendors, are additional avenues for board recruitment. They’ve had an investment in your organization and might have an interest to become more involved.

Background of board members

  • Recruit members that have a close affiliation with your organization. For example, it is important for schools to have alumni representation on the board because they can provide a first-person perspective to the board.
  • Diversity is an extremely important characteristic for your board as well. Diversity in race, gender, age, and experience can help the organization to gain a variety of opinions and insights for the organization.
  • In conjunction with a member’s experience, an organization should look for people that have backgrounds in a variety of professional fields. These fields could be in law, accounting, banking, sales, the environment, etc.

Responsibilities of board members

  • Board members should be expected to have a financial responsibility to the organization. Not just the amount the member gives, but also the amount the individual raises for the organization.
  • The members should be expected to be an advocate for your organization. They should know the mission and vision of the organization and be able to discuss this within the community.
  • The members of the board should be able to give counsel and advice to the organization. Members are charged to make vital decisions, up to and including, the hiring and firing of key staff members.

While each nonprofit organization has unique needs, the central themes behind the needs for a board and board members are universal. Whether a board is being formed for advisory purposes or to help with the governing of the nonprofit, an organization should have a clear plan on how to recruit their members and who they should be recruiting.