5 Places to Look for New Board Members – and What to Do with Them When You Find Them

Are you scratching your head trying to figure out where to find new board members? It can be challenging to find the right people who want to be involved for the right reasons.Several years ago I was able to work with a community health center to identify and recruit potential board members. I enjoyed meeting people in the community, but soon realized that there were many thoughts related to what it meant to serve on a board of directors. Some people were truly dedicated to the cause and were coming in with their eyes open. However others just thought it would look good on their resume and others were committed to the cause but didn’t want any responsibility. I quickly came to the realization that it was much harder than it looked!

Here are some thoughts about where to look for potential board members and also a very high level view of helping new members get off to a good start. While identifying the right board members for your organization is a matter for another article, here are some ideas for where to look:

  • Local Business Journal. Many communities have a business journal that provides information about, well, businesses and business leaders. Often, the biographies will provide very telling information that can help you identify whether they might be interested in becoming involved with your organization. It will also include new businesses, listings of people who have recently been promoted or newly hired, and other information. Spend some time reading through it. Not only will you identify potential donors and board members, you may also find information about your current board members and donors.
  • Civic Associations / Chambers. What community doesn’t have Rotary, Kiwanis, Sertoma, a Moose lodge, a chamber of commerce, etc? People who are involved in these types of organizations typically have a desire to give back to the community and be a part of something bigger than themselves. And often, these organizations are looking for speakers, so reach out, attend a couple of meetings, and see who you meet.
  • Houses of Worship. Just like with civic associations, people who have a desire to give back to the community and be a part of something bigger than themselves.
  • Donors. Your current donors have already raised their hand to say that they support your cause. Perhaps there are a few who would like to get more involved with the organization!
  • Volunteers. Current volunteers are another place to look for board members. Are there people volunteering who are well-connected in the community or have other skills your organization would benefit from?

Now you know where to look. What will you say when you pick up the phone to call them or when you see them in line at the grocery store? Here are a few words of advice:

First, identify very clearly what the goals of your organization are – and how the board will be a part of accomplishing those goals. Next, be very clear with incoming board members about what your expectations are for them (providing a job description is just the first step in this process). If you have an existing board that hasn’t been as involved as you would like them to be, keep in mind that new members will often confirm to the norm in the board, so if you’re hoping to have a new person shake things up, make sure they know that’s what you’re hoping. And finally, don’t be afraid to talk about the fundraising responsibility that board members have (again, being clear about how your organization measures that involvement).

Those are just a few thoughts. What are yours?


5 Places to Look for New Board Members – and What to Do with Them When You Find Them — 4 Comments

  1. Pingback: Kirsten’s Fundraising Headlines – February 7, 2012 | Growing Your Donors

  2. I agree, Lori, good suggestions all.

    I’d also like to add community relations departments of local companies. Many companies strongly encourage their leadership teams to be involved in nonprofit boards. And the volunteer center or volunteer match in your area.

    One tale of how this works. I noticed a profile in the local business news about an individual who was an expert in branding. That happened to be a critical issue for the organization on whose board I was serving. And, just to put the frosting on the cake, that individual added some diversity we were recruiting for. So I clipped the article, we developed a strategy for meeting, cultivating and recruiting her, and within a year, she joined the board.

    I like to keep my eye on people and add them to an ongoing list of potential board members. It may take a few years between the time you spot someone of interest to the time you could actually recruit them to the board. But keeping that list keeps people in development. Here’s how I do that. http://bit.ly/gFwl85