April 13, 2021

Speed Up the Board Recruitment Process!

Non Profit Consulting and Training - Wendy Biro-Pollard

Imagine getting excited about volunteering for something, and then waiting six or seven months before you actually get to do it. Can we accelerate the process by “pre-qualifying” candidates?

One of the most frustrating parts of board recruitment is the length of time — often months — between talking with a prospect and then bringing him onto the board . . . months during which the candidate usually becomes less interested. For instance, a person might be tentatively asked in January, discussed by the governance/nominating committee in February, have her name brought to the board for discussion in March, officially interviewed/asked in April, elected by the board in May, and her first board meeting is in July! Some boards invite potential recruits to observe a board meeting before deciding whether to join, which adds even more time.

To accelerate this process, some boards invite candidates to the board meeting at which they will be voted on. The hitch, of course, is that it makes it very difficult for a board NOT to approve someone who is already in attendance (albeit asked to sit in the hall for a few minutes).

Instead, think about “pre-approving” some candidates. Often a few names arise of people who are already known well by several other people on the board: perhaps a community leader, a mayor, a long-term activist, and so forth. In such cases, the board can have a preliminary discussion about the candidate and provisionally approve him or her as a board member. The full board then cedes to the governance committee the power to make a final decision on the candidate based on the outcome of the governance committee’s discussion with him or her. The committee members will interview the candidate, then quickly discuss among themselves how the interview went. If the committee members agree, the person can be immediately notified of his or her acceptance, and can attend the next board meeting.

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Decision Making For Nonprofit Boards

Non Profit Consulting and Training - Wendy Biro-Pollard

Many nonprofit organizations struggle, quite understandably, with technology planning and investment. New computers, sophisticated websites and database systems can be expensive. Staff members may be resistant to change and to learning new applications.

But, to quote a famous saying from my homeland: “penny wise can be pound foolish”. Sound and well-thought out purchases in the short term have the potential to save significant resources in the medium to long term.

So, how should your Board of Directors and/or your Technology Committee approach technology planning and investment?

One technique is to start out with a “blue-sky” session. First, take an inventory of the capabilities that you currently have, what’s working in your operations, and your limitations and frustrations. Then, without consideration of constraints such as cost or staff resources, list the things that you should ideally be able to do.

I like to use “What’s the One Thing” questions for this process to help you focus and prioritize:

  • What’s the One Thing that you’re currently doing that is most valued by your constituents? (i.e. Board, members, founders, staff, the general public . . .)
  • What’s the One Thing that you currently don’t do that your constituents wish that you would?
  • What’s the One Thing that would give you maximum competitive advantage? (or fundraising edge, or whatever is your most burning need . . .)

Look at the procedures that are currently absorbing staff time and resources. Is there potential to streamline these, or to recreate them in a way that would be more cost-effective?

For example, many organizations produce small informational leaflets, brief white papers, or regularly updated research findings. These are sold for a few dollars, which may not cover the true cost of printing, mailing, and check or credit card processing.

An alternative is to provide these as downloadable e-books on your Website. When the buyer enters their credit card, they gain instant access to your materials in whatever format you choose – Adobe Acrobat (pdf), Word, html, etc. Once this system is set up, you should have few maintenance or support issues, and you’re in business on a 24/7 basis. You can change the documents whenever you need to, without leaving stocks of outdated print copies.

Are you using e-mail as effectively as you could?  There are elements to successful implementation of e-mail:

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