1. Choose people with a diversity of expertise. It is imperative to consider potential board members who can build your organization. To have a variety of perspectives as well as circles of influence can help provide the long term stability a nonprofit organization needs for impact. Make sure you select members who bring to the table financial, legal, community, marketing, business, and nonprofit expertise, says Booker-Drew, who is currently enrolled as a Ph.D. candidate atAntioch Universitystudying leadership and change with a focus on nonprofit organizations. Make sure that you have members who represent diversity not only in occupations, but also in age, gender, and ethnicity, but your board should also reflect the make-up of your community.
2. Choose people with a passion for your mission. It is important to identify individuals that not only support the director but they must have a commitment to the organization and its mission. “One of the mistakes I made several years ago was that I sat on a board because I really enjoyed the executive director and once she left, I decided to leave the organization,” says Booker-Drew. “From that point, I realized that although I thought the organization provided a great body of work, my commitment was to her. Since that time, I will only affiliate with boards whose purpose aligns with my passion.” To avoid choosing board members who can not articulate your mission to others, create a formal nomination process and interview prospective board members.
3. Find people who are willing to “Give, Get, or Get Off.” If your board is not willing to give money, utilize their expertise and talents, or provide in-kind support, it is unrealistic to expect others to support your efforts, says Booker-Drew. Create job descriptions for your board members and set expectations early.
4. Board members must be willing to educate and be educated. Boards must offer constant educational opportunities to inform members on their roles and responsibilities. Each year, the board should revisit their by-laws, mission, and measure its progress. With the changes instated by the IRS, it is important that board members are given an orientation on ethics, governance issues, and their involvement, says Booker-Drew.