The Plan To Replace Board Members

Your nonprofit board needs some new blood or maybe there are some board members retiring in the near future. Where do you find their replacements?

“The first step is to consider to whom your organization needs to be connected,” according to James Mueller, a former nonprofit executive and founder of James Mueller & Associates in Delray Beach, Fla.  “Once you create a descriptive template or profile, you immediately take a step in the right direction away from your implicit biases because you are describing measurable attributes.”

In his book, Onboarding Champions: The seven recruiting principles of highly effective nonprofit boards, Mueller recommends four categories for connections:

  • Those you serve. “The reason to recruit a person who connects you to the people you serve is that it enables you to serve them better.” Just don’t make a token selection.
  • Those who are influential in the community. “It takes more than just awareness of the organization for it to have an impact on people’s perception,” Muller wrote. “Community influencers have a special voice that breaks through the noise, and their advocacy at critical times is extraordinarily powerful.”
  • Those who are affluent philanthropists and love the cause. Not everyone who is affluent is philanthropic. That’s why these people are indispensable — not only for their financial support but because of loyalty to organizations they trust, concern for substantial program impact, and circles of influence.
  • Those equipped to help your organization better succeed at its mission and serve its community. Every board should be on the lookout for unique people in the community who have special skills or fill unique business niches that can offer special insight to your organization. Keep in touch with your business journals and local media with an eye to the next great fit for your board.

Of course, just because someone fits one of those four categories does not qualify them for a board seat. Recruiting for character and governance competence precedes recruiting for connections, according to Mueller, a former chief operating officer at Grenzebach Glier & Associates.