Guidelines for Recruiting New Board Members

Sections of this topic

    Guidelines for
    Recruiting New Board Members

    © Copyright Carter
    McNamara, MBA, PhD

    Vast majority of content
    in this topic applies to for-profits and nonprofits. This book also covers this topic.

    Developing, Operating and Restoring Your Nonprofit Board - Book Cover

    The following guidelines should
    be modified as necessary to conform to the particular culture
    and purpose of the organization.

    It’s very important to keep
    the perspective that your board deserves highly skilled and participative
    board members. Don’t erode your goals and believe that you are
    lucky to get anyone at all.

    When you set out to recruit new members,
    the most important consideration is know what kind of skills are
    currently needed by the board. Consider the nature of issues and
    goals currently faced by the organization, for example, if you’re
    struggling with finances then seek a member with strong financial
    skills. It’s highly useful to use a
    Board Recruitment Grid.

    1. Maintain an up-to-date list of
    potential board candidates, including the particular skills they
    can bring to the organization. This is often done by the Nominating
    Committee or the Board Development Committee.

    2. Develop a Sample Board Application
    for prospective new board members.
    The form should solicit information about the potential new member,
    including biographical information, why they want to join this
    board, what they hope to bring to the board, what they would like
    to get from their board membership and any questions they might

    3. Per any scheduling in the By-laws
    and/or after strategic planning, reference major strategic goals
    for the organization and the chief executive to identify what
    skills would be highly useful to the board, e.g., if new people
    will be hired, the board may desire people with human resource
    skills, etc.

    4. Reference the list of potential candidates to recruit for board
    membership and ask to meet with them.

    5. Prospective board members should meet with the board chair
    and the chief executive, hear an overview of the organization
    and receive relevant organizational materials describing the organization’s
    products or services, receive a board member job description and
    a board member application form. The prospective new member should
    hear about how the organization orients new members. Provide names
    of several board members whom the prospective new member might
    contact with any questions.

    7. Identify if there are any potential
    conflicts of interest with the candidate, e.g., is he or she on
    the board of a competing organization, a vendor of the organization,

    8. Invite the prospective new member to a board meeting. Notify
    current board members that a potential new member will be attending.
    Consider name tags to help the potential new member be acquainted
    with board members. Introduce the member right away in the meeting
    and, at the end of the meeting, ask the potential new member if
    they have any questions. Thank them for coming.

    9. Shortly after the meeting, call the prospective new member
    to hear if they want to apply for joining the board or not. If
    so, solicit their completed board member application and provide
    all applications to the board for their review and election.

    10. Notify new members (those who have been elected) and invite
    them to subsequent board meetings and the board orientation.

    See the following link that explains
    what a potential board member should consider before joining a

    5 Things to Consider Before Joining a Board of Directors

    Return to Recruiting and Orienting
    New Board Members

    For the Category of Boards of Directors:

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