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7 important qualities of board members

by The NonProfit Times - July 3, 2012

Recruiting new members to a nonprofit board can be a difficult task. The board must not only be composed of diverse individuals with a wide range of experiences and skill sets, but members also must have the correct qualities. Those are some pretty strict requirements.

Before you set out to recruit new board members, you must know the qualities that a qualified candidate needs to possess. None of these qualities is optional. The individual must have all of them to be considered. In his book “Making a Difference,” Howard Berman lists the seven qualities you need to look for during the recruiting process:

  • Integrity: Demonstrating a zero tolerance for unethical behavior, both for themselves and their colleagues.
  • Independence: Having no unique business, financial or personal relationships — or hoped-for-relationships — that create even the perception of a conflict of interest.
  • Mature Confidence: Speaking out and actively participating in board and committee deliberations.
  • Corporate Manners: Recognizing the difference between productively participating in discussions and counter-productively dominating deliberations through the volume or length of comments. Must be able to work with other members to create workable compromises.
  • A Sense of Context: Making relevant, informed comments focused on the specific aspect of the issue being considered. Must be able to stay on topic.
  • Courage: Willingness to do the right thing/make the right decision even if it is difficult or unpopular (i.e., no fence sitting).
  • Commitment: Understanding that being an effective board member requires the time, the heart, and the standards to make the enterprise successful.


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