PMA Consulting, LLC

Trench Warfare – Recruiting Winning Board Members

By Rex Otey, PMA Director

Rex Otey, Director

Although identifying and recruiting quality board members for your nonprofit has never been easy, the task has certainly become more challenging in the post-Recession era. Gone are the days (thankfully) of meetings consisting of lengthy committee reports and the ensuing arduous discussions around them.

Today, leaders are looking for meaning and purpose in their precious free time. Wearing the noble badge of board member today means rolling proverbial sleeves up and engaging at a fully-committed and meaningful level.

Strange as it may seem, serving today actually equates to work. Competition has never been greater for talented, connected and engaged board members.

Where Will You Find Your Next Board Member?

How will your organization win the battle of landing winning board members in the nonprofit trenches? Here are a few places PMA recommends starting:

  • Meet with Corporate Leaders (who you know would likely not serve your board) – Find out the rising stars of a company who might fit your nonprofit or who are simply looking to serve.
  • Other Nonprofit Leaders – Ask other leaders about terrific former board members that may connect or align with your organization’s mission. Working with other nonprofits will only help keep talented candidates serving the community and bolstering the area’s nonprofit sector.
  • Volunteer Liaison – This individual knows a lot of good potential candidates from both current and past engagements.  Find out who would be a good hands-on fit for your board and ask for an introduction.
  • Form a Recruitment Task Force – Your organization’s Advisory Board (if you have one) is a great place to start. Enlist the help of a dozen or more highly functioning leaders in town (also who you know won’t be serving on your board). Ask them for two hours of their time – ultimately having them identify one or more prospective board members. Better yet, get them all in a room together for a brain-storming session. Of course you’ll want to provide a meal as you’re not above bribery—after all this is important!
  • Unabashed Marketing Blitz – Advertise your need for an outstanding board member everywhere you can. Whether it be in your lobby, your newsletter, a magazine or an annual report, get the word out. Be careful though, as this tactic could lead to unqualified applicants who you wouldn’t otherwise engage.

The important point is that you shouldn’t rely on a dead or barely functioning two-person “Nominating Committee” to fill your most precious and coveted leadership seats. Put a comprehensive, aggressive plan together, ready the troops for battle and go claim the high ground – outstanding, dedicated and generous board members.