Why We Give.net


A blog for nonprofit leaders featuring fresh voices, perspectives, strategies, and news about the relational work of fundraising that inspires abundant, sustainable, and meaningful philanthropy.

  • Otto Reinisch

Transform Your Nonprofit Board With This Question...

Last time, we looked at the process nonprofit organizations use to find board members…and why it’s often not enough. Here’s how – by adding just one question – you can transform your board recruitment into a powerful tool for finding and inspiring the leaders your organization needs.

First, do these questions sound familiar when recruiting board members?

1. “What do we want the candidate to be?” We begin by identifying candidates by gender, race, profession, sexual preference, religion, or other criteria to fill ‘holes’ on the board.

2. “What do we want them to do? Next, we plan a job for each candidate. Do we need expertise on the Finance Committee? Fundraising advice? Programming guidance?

3. “What do we want them to know? Finally, we prepare candidates for their work with an information-laden presentation of by-laws, programs, roles & responsibilities, and fundraising expectations.

While this process appeals to a candidate’s rational side, it does little to inspire. It engages their ‘head’ but leaves the ‘heart’ untouched. Some board members excel. Others meet expectations…but their work is ordinary. A few grow disenchanted; they disengage. Others leave.

It doesn’t need to be like this. There’s a better way.

Adding this question to your board recruitment process will begin to transform your board’s collective work into a calling that makes their individual service meaningful:

4. “What do we want the candidate to believe? The essence of every high-functioning board is when members share powerful values that are evident throughout the organization. Guarding and promoting these values is “Job #1” for any executive director, beginning with board recruitment.

When you recruit board members who believe what you believe, you…

· Increase the board’s effectiveness by having members work together in the same way, toward the same end, and with the same sense of purpose. Board service is a journey and highly effective boards care as much about the quality of that journey as they do about the destination. Our values are the road map and guard rails that guide us along the way.

· Avoid a clash of cultures. The best definition of culture is, “It’s the way we get things done around here.” Problems begin to appear when board members don’t value “the way things are done” on the board or within the organization.

· Develop a shared meaning of success. High-functioning boards agree on what defines success. While numbers and statistics measure what we’ve accomplished, our shared values tell us what our accomplishments mean; not only to us but to all those we serve.

· Inspire excellence as each member’s service ‘breathes life’ into deeply held values, making a difference in the lives of others through sound governance and visionary leadership, and

· Succeed at fundraising as board members encourage generosity by participating in the relational work of helping donors find meaning in their philanthropy just as they discovered purpose and meaning in their service.

NEXT: I’ll share practical steps you can take to transform board recruitment into a powerful tool for developing the leaders your organization needs…and which you deserve. We’ll focus on the power of storytelling because the journey toward meaning almost always begins with the stories we tell…and those we encourage others to share.