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The Nonprofit Board of Directors

The nonprofit Board of Directors (often referred to as simply "The Board') is an essential part of the organization's structure and government. Nonprofit organizations must have a board of directors in order to incorporate and receive non profit 501c3 status. But where do nonprofit board members come from? And how can we recruit more board members?

What is a nonprofit board of directors?

Before you begin to recruit members for your board of directors, you should be familiar with what the board does and does not do. The board of directors are not staff members of your organization, in fact, board members are volunteers and do not get paid. Instead, they provide leadership and oversight for the executive director or other senior management of the organization, helping with planning and fundraising activities.

What does a nonprofit board of directors do?

The board of directors meets periodically and receives updates on the nonprofit organizations financial and operating condition. They provide insight and guidance for the organization to help them deliver their services and programs in the most efficient way. Small nonprofit might have more "active boards", in which board members might take on essential tasks within the organization, like volunteer coordination or accounting, but as an organization grows it is best to find people other than board members to carry out those activities.

Board members are usually responsible for making a donation to the nonprofit organization each year (called a "board give"); this is part of the organization's fundraising plan. Board members can either give money from their own pocket, or recruit donors from their network to get them involved in the organization and its cause.

Where do board members come from?

Every board of directors needs to have at least four members: President, Vice President, Treasurer and Secretary. Most non profits boards have between 10-15 members. Where do they come from?

Many board members are founders or formers leaders of the organization. Others are major donors to the organization. But board members don't have to be directly affiliated with the organization before they join the board of directors; sometimes leaders in a certain field will be recruited onto the board of directors of a nonprofit organization in order to help the organization expand its donor base and constituent network.

How else can you recruit board members?

There are a few types of people that you should look for to have on a nonprofit board of directors. This includes people with backgrounds in law, finance, and business in addition to people with a more intimate knowledge of the service area and/or organization itself. If you are looking to recruit for your nonprofit board of directors, you should begin by thinking about what kind of person/board position you are trying to fill. Trying to recruit a lawyer to help with legal issues is going to be very different from trying to recruit someone who has experience with library expansion, for example.

Once you have identified the positions you are trying to fill, you can start looking through the list of people currently associated with your organization, like volunteers and donors. They will already have shown commitment to your cause, and might be interested in taking on a leadership role. You can also ask current board members to speak to their friends and colleagues to find interested parties. Finally, there are some online tools that can help match willing board members with organizations that need them, like BoardNet and VolunteerMatch.

It is also important to remember that in your nonprofit job, you should be aware of who your board members are and what kind of role they have in the organization. This will help you figure out how you can involve them in the work that you are doing.

 

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