High performing nonprofits didn’t become successful because they were lucky or because they had wealthy benefactors. What they really had was a good plan and a foolproof strategy executed by passionate professionals. You already have the passion, creativity, innovation and a personal connection to an issue you want to fix in our society, but what you may lack is the right group of people to support your mission.
Nearly all successful nonprofits have spent their time and energy to build a Rockstar Board. What is that? A rockstar board is a high-performing collection of passionate volunteers that propels your nonprofit forward. Here are our best tips for building your rockstar board:
1. Board Assessment
Start by asking what would help propel your organization forward. When you start with an assessment, your organization can pursue the skills, perspectives, expertise and connections that are needed in your nonprofit — with laser focus — and from there, you can move on to the interviews and selection process to get the right people situated on your board.
2. Don’t Stop Recruiting
At any time, one of your board members can resign, or some new opportunities can arise. If you meet someone who could be a good board candidate in the future, make a note of it and maintain a relationship so that when you are recruiting, you already have a list of potentials to approach — and they already have knowledge and interest in your work.
3. Check Those Already in Your Organization
Look around your nonprofit. You may already have volunteers or partners involved with your organization who can make even more substantial contributions. These volunteers already know your mission, vision and values, plus they have a greater understanding of the work you do than someone “off the street” and can provide a fresh perspective to your board’s work.
4. Just Ask
The best way to recruit is to simply ask directly. You can advertise, put out calls, post on social media or volunteer boards, but nothing beats asking your ideal candidate directly to consider joining your board.
5. Be Inclusive
Double-check the qualifications and requirements that you’re asking of your prospective board members. Are you asking for qualifications that are actually relevant to the role you are offering? Is it vital for your candidate to have a University degree, or do they really have to have three or more years on a board already? Make sure you’re not chasing qualifications that are excluding people without a real purpose or reason. Remember, your board should reflect those you serve.
6. Pay Attention to Diversity
The diversity in your board should be something you should strive to improve if you want your nonprofit to thrive. Recent research as well as experience have proven that diverse boards are more effective in terms of organizational outcomes.
Cultivating a rockstar board is a never-ending process for a nonprofit organization. If you carefully consider your candidates’ talents and enthusiasm for your cause and keep an open mind, a committed, well-balanced board will be within your reach.
By Jackie Sue Griffin, MBA, MS