October 7, 2022

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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