I’ve been thinking about nonprofit boards of directors lately. What does your board development committee look for in a board candidate? What is the ideal composition of a board? I mean, what skill-sets or experiences should your board members “bring to the table”? If thought through carefully, and strategically, you can assemble a team of diverse and highly skilled individuals who possess very desirable skills that will help your organization and key staff members thrive and serve your targeted audience, even during tough times.
I am familiar with a nonprofit that has a terrific board. It has a combination of both new and long time directors who are equally split between those most interested in the delivery of its social service programs and those with business organizational management expertise. And yet, each one is equally committed to the organization’s mission and values. Best of all, they bring their skills and their “A-game” to each meeting.
Another benefit is several of these directors serve on other nonprofit boards as well. They bring significant experience, perspective, and networking contacts to the organization and have been instrumental in collaborating with others in the community.
My sense is every successful organization’s board needs a full complement of skills to help the organization and its leadership maximize their impact. Marketing, finance, legal, entrepreneurial, business owner, human capital, IT, networks, relational; you name it. They all have a roll to play in helping the organization succeed.
I also suggest a healthy organization have a wide range of age, sex, and ancestral diversity. Since your key stakeholders come from many backgrounds, experiences, and cultures, young and older, you need to be sure your messaging, positioning, and communications reach out to each constituent and speaks their language.
This board plans to add someone with a strong marketing and internet skills-set that can help with positioning, communication, messaging, and branding. This may require two people but it is imperative to communicate the right message…to the right people…the right way…how and when they want to receive it.
Hand in hand with strategic recruiting of directors is confidence that your director candidates are motivated for the right reasons. You don’t want someone just taking up space. Those cases have to be dealt with promptly and effectively.
A talented board is a precious tool, but it has to be thoughtfully built, cultivated, challenged, and managed.