Successful Nonprofits: 3 Templates for Your Board Recruitment Campaign

3 Templates for Your Board Recruitment Campaign

by Ro

3 Templates for Your Board Recruitment Campaign

by Ro

by Ro

I

 

f you follow this blog, you already know that I believe in a committee-led, annual board recruitment campaign.

This process takes time and energy – – –  but a structured recruitment campaign is 20-times more effective than randomly recruiting new board members individually.  

From the first committee meeting to the final board vote that elects your new class of board members, the entire process will likely take 4 to 6 months.  I covered the recruitment process extensively in my book, Successful Nonprofits Build Supercharged Boards. I’ve found most governance committees have benefited from 3 tools in particular. I’ve dramatically updated these after working with nonprofits over the past 6 years:

        • Board Matrix (sometimes called a board skills checklist)
        • Board Recruitment Announcement
        • Board Application Form (sometimes called a board nomination form)

In addition to explaining each of the tools in this blog post, I’ve offered sample templates that you can download, edit, and use in your nonprofit’s next board recruitment campaign

Tool #1: Board Matrix

The board matrix helps your governance committee take stock of the current board’s skills, demographics, and connections. Knowing these details helps you identify the gaps on your board so you can fine tune your process and recruit the board members you need. 

 

1) Skills

Think about all of the skills necessary for a well-rounded board to govern your nonprofit organization. It goes beyond just having an accountant, an attorney, and someone with programmatic expertise. 

The variety of skills you need are based on the life-cycle stage of your organization. If you have a small working board, you will need board members with expertise in marketing, volunteer management, and perhaps even events. But if you have a large governing board, then you will probably focus on high-level professionals, philanthropists, and subject matter experts. 

 

2) Demographics

Your board matrix should also help you understand board member demographics. This typically includes gender, gender identity, race, and ethnicity. This portion of your board matrix ensures your board is considering diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) in its recruitment process. 

In addition to these measures of DEI, you also might want to consider other demographic factors that are important for your organization. For example, a statewide organization might want geographically diverse board members to better represent the entire state. While an organization serving just one neighborhood might want board members representing young adult, middle-age, and older adult community members. 

 

3) Connections

Most board matrix templates I have seen include both skill and diversity metrics. But I am often surprised that they do not include community connections. It’s important to think about which communities are important to your organization’s success. These might be religious communities or congregations, ethnic communities, civic organizations, or even political groups. Then make sure that you have board members who can open doors within those communities. 

I’ve created a sample board matrix in excel, which you can download below.  This is a fully editable template, and I encourage you to customize the skill, demographic, and connection sections to meet your nonprofit board’s needs:

A lot of our consulting colleagues make you sign up for their newsletter in order to get their templates. We aren’t going to do that, but we would still like you to consider signing up for our newsletter. So if you would like to know about all the great stuff we’re doing, then sign up today and stay informed!

Tool #2: Board Recruitment Announcement

The board recruitment announcement is a brief but vital tool for any nonprofit’s  board recruitment campaign. This announcement is a one page document with no more than four paragraphs:

        • The first paragraph briefly outlines the organization’s work and explains the organization is recruiting new board members. 
        • The second paragraph will explain the core expectations of board service including the board term length, number of meetings a year, and expectations about serving on committees, required give/get, etc. 
        • The next section will briefly note any gaps identified by the skills matrix and encourage applications from individuals who meet those pressing needs. 
        • The last paragraph will briefly outline the process for applying, as well as the deadline to apply.

Many organizations will spend hours crafting the board recruitment announcement and then just post it on the website and include it in an email newsletter. These announcements are only effective when you go beyond those passive marketing activities and identify ways to actively promote and amplify the announcement. For this reason, your governance committee, board, and executive staff should actively solicit nominations from community leaders and personally approach individuals who might make a great board member. Check out this article by Candid for some ideas on where to look for prospective board members.

A sample announcement in Word format can be downloaded at the link below. Just like the board matrix, I encourage you to edit this document based on your own organization’s needs.

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Tool #3: Board Application Form

A formal board application is also an important step in the board recruitment process. While many organizations simply ask for a résumé and letter of interest, having prospective board members complete a written application provides a baseline of information on every candidate. This not only promotes DEI, but also requires prospective board members to make a little extra effort by completing the application. After all, a board member who can’t find time to complete an application will probably not have the bandwidth to fulfill the expectations of board service.

In addition to asking for basic information through the board application, you also want to include some mini-essay questions. These questions, which may only require a single paragraph response, will help you better understand an applicant’s motivation for serving on your board, their prior board history, and any unique relationships or skills they might bring to the board.

I am often asked for a sample board application. So here is an editable board application template:

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Why am I writing about this?

These are the three tools that nearly every governance committee will use to implement a great recruitment campaign. In fact, I’ve been asked for them in almost every consulting engagement whether the engagement is for board development or the annual retreat, or even executive coaching. So please feel free to use the templates and modify them to meet your organization’s unique needs.

Additionally, check out the following Successful Nonprofits® resources if this post was helpful:

Podcast: Episode 111: How to Address the Disengaged Board Member with Cindi Phallen

Podcast: Episode 72: Make Your Board an Engaged Fundraising Machine with Kim Horton and Greg Giles

Blog: How to Fire a Difficult Board Member

Blog: 9 Ways to Build Stronger Relationships with Your Board

Blog: Saying Thank You to Outgoing Board Members

Feel free to share your thoughts!

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