When a board opportunity is presented to a candidate, it is often framed as a sales “ask.” Basically, you’re saying to a candidate: we represent a worthy organization, and we are asking you to contribute your time, treasure, and talent to help us.

Anyone hearing that request—especially a busy, younger person who is perhaps unfamiliar with board service— will automatically raise their defense shields. They’ll tell you: “I do not have time/skills for this,” or perhaps “I really hate meetings.” If they’re feeling particularly candid, they might even say, “I am not interested in spending my free time with people who are my parents’ age.”

From my time on boards, I’ve identified five topics which you can raise with board recruits to show how their service will make them smile. Remember to use these to demonstrate to potential candidates—especially younger generations—what they will get out of serving on a nonprofit board. Feel free to add your opinions on other enjoyable topics in the comment section below!

  1. They will become a subject matter expert. In your sales pitch, highlight that joining your nonprofit’s board will provide the candidate with the opportunity to either learn about a subject that they do not understand or deepen their existing subject matter expertise. Of course, the exact phrasing of this will depend on the candidate’s background. Make sure you research the candidate so that you know where they’re coming from—and how to pitch accordingly.
  2. Serving is learning. This is related to—but importantly also an expansion of—the previous point. You want to make sure that your pitch emphasizes how every aspect of board service teaches valuable skills. This becomes particularly important for those who have not previously served on a board.
  3. A network is waiting to welcome you. During your recruiting meetings, list all the remarkable people (on your board and beyond) who will become your candidates’ colleagues. As board members, they’ll have the chance to attend some fantastic events at unusual venues with organization members or donors who they do not know—and, without your directorship, they would never get to know. If you can point to famous or important people who the candidate will hang out with, so much the better. If you throw a terrific party, brag about it.
  4. Join an exceptional club. Becoming a part of a community dedicated to serving a cause develops strong bonds. These bonds can do much more than just expand a LinkedIn network; they can create friendships.
  5. Scratch the altruistic itch. Like many nonprofit board members, I worked for a paycheck—not my passion—for most of my career. This is not to say that I did not enjoy my work. However, nonprofit board membership provided an additional sense of fulfillment, allowing me to use my talents for something beyond corporate or personal profit.

Read the full article about the next generation of board candidates by Matt Lynch at Blue Avocado.