Do you know what to say when recruiting board members?

The scenario:

It happens all the time when recruiting board members. You know someone that is respected and has been engaged with your mission for quite some time now. They’ve shown good judgement and that they can be trusted in the past. They might even be a friend of yours. A spot on your board has just become available, and you would like to ask them to join.

Well, their response to your offer didn’t go as planned and they end up throwing the question back at you. “Why should I serve on your board?” Once the moment of shock passes, you attempt to piece together an answer for them that must be as informative and honest as it is engaging. 

Did it go well? My guess is unless you were already prepared for that kind of response, it probably didn’t.

Here’s how you should respond…

This type of question needs to be met with a swift and articulate response on your end. There are no second chances when it comes to this question, even more so if the person is well sought after by other organizations. If recruiting board members were like being an art broker, consider this person your Mona Lisa.

Many people think asking someone to join the board of your nonprofit or organization is cut and dry. They believe they will either they’ll say “yes” or they’ll say “no”, and that it will require no explanation of value on their part as to WHY this person would want to be attached to their organization in the first place. But, oftentimes it’s the ones who push back against the initial invitation that have the most potential to boost your agency to the next level. There needs to be several compelling, key reasons why joining your board is a good idea for both your organization, and the potential new board member.

These prepared responses are often called “30-second elevator speeches”. The person is giving you their full attention and just responded to your question. Now, it’s time for you to run the show. Rather than making the switch from the “I am offering you a great opportunity mindset” to a “begger’s mindset”, create a list of well-thought out and rehearsed answers to be used at a moments notice.

Types of responses:

  • Allows them to fulfill a community responsibility
  • Gives them an opportunity to give back
  • Will strengthen a resume
  • To join an agency impacting its community
  • Because they have good judgment or a necessary skill the board needs
  • We have a great mission and everyone loves us

Without having a compelling reason to join your board at the ready, you are putting yourself at risk of being caught off guard if you don’t get the response you anticipated. Create a list of reasons to join your board so you are prepared ahead of time. Maybe even create them with your current board members as an exercise.

How do you respond when asked why someone should join your board? I’d love to hear your take on the situation. 

Running into other challenges when recruiting board members? Calibrate can help. Learn more.