Assembling a board for a nonprofit or foundation can be challenging. The process comes with tough choices on who to select and what makes the person a great fit. That’s because the board itself is faced with making big decisions about the financing, strategy, and direction of the organization. Before you approach a potential board member, here are five criteria to consider:
Diversity in age, educational background, expertise, gender, and place of origin is necessary in a board. Broadening your organization’s board composition helps expand perspectives at the top. For instance, research has shown that a gender diverse board is closely linked to corporate reputations and operational performance. Each board member should be proficient and as a team, their strengths and weaknesses should complement each other.
Board members help to expand the nonprofit in new directions and as such must have clout within the community they serve and in their field. Their influence will galvanize and maintain the support needed to achieve the goals and objectives of the organization. Respected board members add value and build trust in an organization.
Passionate About Your Cause
Choosing people who are passionate about the issues the organization addresses makes them take on the organization’s challenges as their personal battles. Passion keeps board members committed long after the excitement of becoming a new board member dies down. They are more willing to go the extra mile when they truly believe in the organization’s mission.
Creating a board with the right skills and functional expertise needed by your nonprofit gives the leadership of the organization a well-rounded knowledge base for making decisions. Expertise in the organization’s programmes, and broader disciplines like law and finance is key. The right mix of individuals will position your organization for growth and expansion.
Consider people who are willing and able to spend time to build the organization. Ensure that potential board members agree to make themselves available for meetings, programmes, and events as the need arises. Time and effort are necessary ingredients for strengthening an organization.
To assist you in the next step after assembling your nonprofit, here is a checklist to guide the orientation of new board members into your nonprofit:
- Take a tour of the organization’s facilities
- Ensure that new board members understand the history of of the organization
- Share strategic plans with board members
- Provide an overview of the budget practices board members will need to know, including what to know to approve organizational budgets, and how to read a financial statement
- Review organizational chart
- Make sure board members not only understand how the organization is structured, but also how the board interacts with specific departments and staff members.
- Include fundraising responsibilities of individual board members, role that advocacy plays in mission achievement, and how board members can stand for their missions
For more guidelines, visit Board Source for the entire checklist.