How many charities do you know post job descriptions when they are looking for new board members? My guess is not a lot. It is usually only done when a professional board recruiting agency is used. Why would you not put the same time and effort in to recruiting board members as you do your staff? It is not a difficult document to prepare and it has many benefits.
Preparing the document does not need to take a lot of time. The wording can be taken from the organization’s vision and mission statements, job postings and the Board Policy Manual. There are many examples that can be found online or you can use a BoardSource sample as a guide. Once the wording is settled, pass it through the marketing department or a graphic designer to quickly brand it so it is consistent with the other printed materials from the organization.
The first benefit is the first impression. It makes the board and organization look professional. Since so few charities do job postings for new members, the expectation bar is very low. Any governance committee that takes the time and effort to do a job posting will be taken more seriously by potential new board members.
Second, it is basically an advertising opportunity for your charity. If someone were not familiar with the organization before, they will quickly grasp your purpose and passion. If they can’t serve on the board perhaps they’ll consider volunteering in other ways or making a donation because of the great work you do!
Third, it clearly set out the expectations of board members. The role expectations and any other information about the training and orientation provided, term limits and the board’s role in fundraising can be taken directly from the Board Policy Manual. Information about when the board meets can quickly reveal logistic problems with potential candidates who cannot be available when they are needed.
Fourth, since there is an opportunity to state specific areas of expertise that the board is in need of, it allows the governance committee to be laser focused on the type of candidate the board needs to fill gaps.
Fifth, job postings are easy for someone to forward along in an email to someone they know who fits your description. Likewise, it is easy to post on a website, Facebook and LinkedIn or to send to community leaders so the board can increase its reach beyond its existing network. You never know who in your existing sphere has a connection in their network that is just the person you are looking for. As the posting works its way into new spheres, the diversity of thought and experience on the board will improve. If the governance committee is concerned about the time involved in screening applications and losing control of the process, it is good to keep in mind that just because someone applies does not mean the committee has to spend a lot of time managing the application. As with any other job posting, some applications can quickly be responded to with a polite “thank you for your application” letter or email. Ideally the pipeline will begin to fill with ideal candidates that are worth the time and effort to interview.
Finally, as the board is able to raise the bar through its new recruiting practices, the quality of the board and board discussions will steadily improve.
For the hour or two that it takes to put together a professionally branded job posting, the benefits will yield positive results for years to come.