Blog POST

You Need Relationships, Not Just Diversity

A strategic approach to nonprofit board recruitment.

“It is essential to have talented and dedicated people around the table when it comes to decision-making”

This statement is both agreeable and complex. While we can agree, we want talented and dedicated people, our ability to recruit and retain individuals who encompass those qualities can be a challenge. This challenge increases when you consider that our board members are all volunteers.

When examining the human resources available within any community, it is easy to become frustrated about the prospects of recruitment for board positions. For some places, this process includes asking already overly committed people to commit to one more thing. For other regions, it is a continual reminder of the reallocation of the human capital in our country.

Here are five tips to assist in your pursuit of an outstanding board:

1.Establish what skills you need on the board: Often, in recruitment conversations, people start with the job title instead of the ability or skill set. For example, a committee will say, “We need a CPA” instead of “We need someone who will help us decipher our financial statements and help plan budgeting.” One of these statements can limit you to someone within a large accounting firm while the other opens up the possibility to someone who has the skill but may work inside of a smaller firm or in a nonprofit. One way to start the discussion on skills on the board is to utilize an examination of a board matrix.

2.Think outside of your circle: By consistently recruiting people that board members already know, we establish a minimal field from which to recruit. And of course, we are more likely to know people like ourselves than people with genuinely different backgrounds and perspectives. You can ask other community members what the top two things their field, community, company, or profession will be focusing on in the coming years?

Charles Deluvio via Unsplash

3.Cultivate intentional relationships: People are complex and bring their whole selves to any room. That means that if someone has a family member that is ill, it is still on their mind. Be mindful of that when you ask people to be on your board. Asking someone how their family is doing can go a long way.

4.Consider bringing on more than just one board member: Few people like walking into a room and being the only new kid. Consider asking a couple of people to join the board during a given term to help them learn you and us gradually and together.

5.Utilize the CURRENT and NEW talent to increase retention: The best recruitment tool for your board are the testimonials from current board members. There are a few ways to have this conversation.

  • What means is the board utilizing existing skills and talents?
  • What value-added exists by being part of our board?
  • What information does our board need to be better ambassadors?

The great thing is that you don’t have to do this alone. There are many resources available to dive deeper into this topic. Don’t know where to start? Reach out to our Engagement Studio today to see how we can help you cultivate the best and brightest for your nonprofit needs.