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Tools You Can Use

Eleven Cool Ideas for Finding Hot New Board Members

Resource
The Best of the Board Café

Contents
Eleven Cool Ideas for Finding Hot New Board Members
    1. Form a “one-meeting nominating committee”
    2. Take out a "Help Wanted" ad
    3. Consider your volunteers, donors, and clients
    4. Network with staff from local organizations
    5. Read the local paper, especially community leader profiles
    6. See if your community has a board recruitment program
    7. Ask for suggestions from funders
    8. Call a community association
    9. Contact a friend or colleague who's affiliated with a local university
    10. Call the head of a local corporate foundation or corporate giving department
    11. Ask your supervisor at work for suggestions

Additional Resources

 

From Becky Andrews, Marketing Manager, Fieldstone Alliance:

I ASKED Marla Cornelius, Projects Director at CompassPoint Nonprofit Services, what she thought the hot board issues were right now. As it turns out, she was facilitating “A Peer Discussion for Next Generation Leaders: What’s Next?” the following day. Therefore, I choose to focus this issue of Tools on creative (and inexpensive) ways to find new board members. It’s excerpted (with slight modifications) from our book The Best of the Board Café by Jan Masaoka. The book is a compilation of the most requested articles from CompassPoint’s popular e-newsletter, Board Café.

Eleven Cool Ideas for Finding Hot New Board Members
The tasks of recruiting new board members are often those for which no one volunteers. One reason is that although board members are often told they have been recruited for their “connections,” it hasn’t been made clear that an important use of these connections is to recruit new board members. A second, and more subtle, reason is that many people are reluctant to recruit board members whom they perceive as being more important (by whatever standard) than themselves. The techniques below help overcome these barriers and others.

1. Form a “one-meeting nominating committee”
Draw up a list of twenty well-connected people you would want on the board, who you suspect wouldn’t join, but who might be able to recommend good board members. Call those twenty people and ask them to come to a one-time meeting over lunch. Tell them that at the lunch they’ll be told more about the organization and what it’s looking for in board members. At the end of lunch they’ll be asked simply for the name of one person they think would be a good board member. The day after the lunch call up each of the nominees and begin by explaining who nominated them.

2. Take out a “Help Wanted” ad
Take out a “Help Wanted—Volunteer Board Member” ad in your own newsletter, in the neighborhood newsletter or alumni newsletter of a local college, or on online job boards. Example: “HELP Cypress House . . . We’re looking for a few talented and conscientious volunteer board members to help guide our child care, teen, and senior programs into the next century. If you can contribute one evening a month and have skills or contacts in accounting, publicity, or special-event fundraising, call Sister Mary Margaret at 555-1234 to find out more about whether this volunteer opportunity is right for you.”

3. Consider your volunteers, donors, and clients
Ask the executive director or the volunteer coordinator if there are two or three hands-on volunteers who would make good board members. Hands-on volunteers—such as support group facilitators, practical life support volunteers, meal preparers, weekend tree planters, classroom aides, and others—bring both demonstrated commitment and an intimate knowledge of the organization’s strengths and weaknesses. Volunteers, donors, and clients should be the first place you look. You don’t have to “sell” the organization or its cause—they’re on board already!

4. Network with staff from local organizations
Pick four local organizations where you don’t know anyone, but you wish you did (examples: Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, CPA Society, United Cerebral Palsy). Ask each board officer to call one of the four local organizations and ask to have coffee with the organization's board president or the executive director. Over coffee, suggest that your two organizations recommend to each other board members for limited terms as a way of establishing organizational links and strengthening ties among communities.

5. Read the local paper, especially community leader profiles
When you see someone intriguing, send that person a note (in care of the newspaper if you can’t find a business or home address) commenting on the article and asking if he or she would be interested in getting involved as a volunteer board member. Even if the person doesn’t respond to the invitation to meet, you will have caught the favorable attention of an influential community member.

6. See if your community has a board recruitment program
Such a program is perhaps run by the United Way, a volunteer center, or a technical assistance organization.

7. Ask for suggestions from funders
Tell government program officers and foundation grantmakers that you are trying to expand and strengthen your board, and you would greatly appreciate help from them. Ask each person for just one terrific suggestion.

8. Call a community association
Approach organizations such as the Chamber of Commerce, the Rotary Club, the Gay/Lesbian Democratic Club, or the Council of Churches. Ask if you can make a presentation at an upcoming meeting about community needs and your organization’s services. As part of your presentation talk about how your organization is seeking dedicated board members with clout and wide community contacts.

9. Contact a friend or colleague who's affiliated with a local university
Ask them to help you identify two or three professors of public health or management, or an administrative dean who might be capable of and interested in serving as board members.

10. Call the head of a local corporate foundation or corporate giving department
Get an appointment and explain your organization’s work and the kind of board members you are seeking. It’s likely that the executive staff of the corporation are already on boards and would like to see their junior members join boards (for community goodwill and for leadership development). Bring a short “organizational résumé” and ask your contact to circulate it among possible candidates and their superiors.

11. Ask your supervisor at work for suggestions
If nothing else, he or she should be impressed with your community involvement. (This tip, of course, is for people who are already volunteering as a board member.)

 

Additional Resources

The following resources aren’t all on on recruiting new board members. They include related topics such as leadership development, executive transitions, and generational issues. (A special thanks to Marla Cornelius who was kind enough to share her list from her workshop!)

American Humanics
http://www.humanics.org/site/c.omL2KiN4LvH/b.1537171/k.5CBD/Research_and_Resources.htm#research_pipeline

Annie E. Casey Foundation
www.aecf.org

The Bridgespan Group
www.bridgespangroup.org

Building Movement Project
www.buildingmovement.org

CompassPoint Nonprofit Services
www.compasspoint.org

Fieldstone Alliance

  • Article: href="/client/tools_you_can_use/02-21-07_generational_trends.cfm?disccode=TOOL110107">Six Trends that Will Affect Your Nonprofit
  • Article: href="/client/tools_you_can_use/04-18-07_six_steps_gen_change.cfm?disccode=TOOL110107">Six Steps to Deal with Generational Change in Your Organization
  • Article: href="/client/tools_you_can_use/03-07-07_generational_trends_part_2.cfm?disccode=TOOL110107">Four Impacts of Generational Change
  • Article: href="/client/tools_you_can_use/10-06-06_managing_change.cfm?disccode=TOOL110107">Leading Through a Change Without Losing Your Mind
  • Article: href="/client/tools_you_can_use/05-16-07_ecumen_example.cfm?disccode=TOOL110107">Managing at the Intersection of Generational Change and Policy

Young Nonprofit Professionals Network (YNPN)
http://ynpn.org

All the Best,

Becky Andrews
Fieldstone Alliance

November 1,  2007

 

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