Nonprofits have long been challenged by unmet expectations in board member engagement and performance. The latest research from BoardSource reinforces the prevalence of this issue. Leading With Intent: 2017 National Index of Nonprofit Board Practices reports that a high percentage of nonprofits experience difficulty with successful board recruitment.

The analysis also identifies other board needs, such as increased diversity, more strategic thinking, and a higher level of engagement in advocacy.

If your board isn’t performing as desired, you should face facts: You are probably recruiting the wrong individuals. Critique the prospecting process instead of criticizing the individuals who said yes to a board service invitation. Because many organizations wait until the last minute and then frantically search for board replacements, they are willing to accept less than ideal prospect choices.

Unlike magical unicorns, performance-committed board member prospects do exist. It takes planning and effort to find them. Working in advance of when board seats need to be filled allows for devoting time to identifying the most desirable prospects.

Here are seven action essentials to build a foundation for creating a successful board recruiting process.

  • Make recruiting quality board members a board and governance committee priority.
  • Commit to the time and structured focus necessary for producing the high-value board members your organization wants and your mission deserves.
  • Establish standards for skills, expertise, experience, and commitment.
  • Identify the factors for determining if a prospect will be a good fit for your particular board.
  • Develop a pool of possible candidates who meet your criteria.
  • Do your homework. Incorporate systematic evaluation and relationship building that leads to good selection decisions.
  • Work in advance. Just as college teams don't wait until graduation day to start thinking about how they will replace a departing player, don't wait until a vacancy occurs to begin your search for a board replacement. Make it a continuous process.

Read the full article about recruiting nonprofit board members by Hardy Smith at BoardSource.