Who is an ideal board member?

Now is a great time to be renewing your Board membership. Everything has changed. Everything will continue to change. The changing times mean that your organization will need new ideas, new energy, new networks.

After you have reviewed, with your Board, who is ready to take on new leadership responsibilities and who is ready to step off the Board, look at the skills and strengths you’ll need to replace. And look to the future, and the ideas, connections and skills you will need.

Then put together a list of potential new Board members.  Apart from the specific skills and strengths and networks you need, look for:

People who love what you do, whether or not they know your organization.

We all have a tendency to think about the people we already know, and then we decide we don’t know anyone who could do the job. Or we go back to people who have already served, and ask them to return to the Board.

Someone who shares a passion for the Mission of the organization.

This is the most important characteristic of a Board member. You need Board members who have a real stake in the success of the organization. They may be a former client, audience member, employee, or a current volunteer. They may have a relative who benefited from the work of the organization. They may work in a related field or organization that relies on your organization’s success.

Lesson: look for people you already know, with whom you already have meaningful conversations about the organization.

Someone who has the time to participate actively in the work of the Board.

The Board has real responsibilities and effective Board members give generously of their time, their knowledge, and their network of connections.

Effective Board members prepare in advance for meetings. They read the agenda and any background information. They connect with people they know in the organization, and gather information outside of the organization to bring to discussions. They listen to their fellow Board members, and listen more than they speak. They respect the views of people who have different perspectives.

Effective Board members are also active on committees, where they may be asked to take on a specific role or task.

Someone who is proud to represent the organization in public and to solicit support for its work.

Most people think they don’t know how to raise funds. Most people are wrong. If they care about the work you do, your purpose, your clients, your contributions to the community, then they can talk about it persuasively with other people, and build the support you need.