Know Who and What You Want
Write down the qualities, skills, and expertise that you are looking for in your next board member before you even begin your search. This will help you stay focused and attract the right talent to serve your organization. Without first defining this, your search will be haphazard and ill-defined. Being able to describe the characteristics your board is looking for will help both your organization and the prospective board members find the optimal fit.
Some factors to consider:
What Skills and Expertise are Already Present on Your Board of Directors?
Recognize what skills are already present on your current board so that you do not duplicate or overlap when finding your newest board member. Someone who is passionate about your cause but can only offer a limited expertise and in an area that is already accounted for on your board will not provide a benefit to your organization. Which leads to the next point...
What Gaps Do You Need to Fill?
As you begin your search for your next board member, define what weaknesses your board currently has. What areas can your board improve on? Do you lack effective fundraisers or someone with a strong financial or legal background? Make note of the skills you would like to see represented on your board that are not currently there.
How Diverse is Your Current Board?
Think about socioeconomic diversity, generational diversity, and other ways to include a broader perspective on your board. (And check out this article about why you should be recruiting Millennials to serve on your board)
Finding the Right Person
Use Your Own Network
Ask other nonprofit professionals in the area if they know anyone that would make a good board member for your organization. Someone that might not be a good fit for one organization may be exactly who you are looking for for yours. Collaborate with other organizations to help match interested people with the right organization.
Ask Your Current Board Members for Recommendations
Your board members (hopefully) have a large network of people in their field or within other associations and may know someone that would be a good fit for the organization. This can be tricky because you do not want your board to become a fraternity or buddy system- this can lead to an over-homogenous and clique-y board. However, serious recommendations can help lead you to the best candidate and you want to take advantage of any networks you can to locate the best person for the position.
Recruit From Your Current Support Base
Look at people that are currently engaged with your organization in other capacities, such as volunteers. People that have already shown their commitment to your organization and a passion for your cause can be very enthusiastic and supportive board members. Just remember not to overload your supporters- give them the opportunities to get more involved, but do not burn them out with too many asks.
How did you find your board members? Let us know in the comments and share other ideas for finding board members! Other comments and questions are appreciated as well.