Recruiting board members is a lengthy process that should be considered months before selecting a candidate.
Although this will be a volunteer position, it’s wise to commit the time to finding a candidate with the right skills, time availability, and enthusiasm. It’s even more crucial to know you can trust the person and they’re a good fit with the rest of the members and your overall mission or values.
Including other members in the process will ensure candidates are vetted properly, and concerns are addressed in the interview process rather than during their first few weeks and months in the organization. Trial by fire is never fun for those involved, and leaves room for errors and confrontation after the position has been filled.
And keep in mind: this is not a one-off process. There will be turnover and continuous recruitment of not only board members but committee chairs as well. Having a recruitment process that is battle-tested and fit specifically to your organization’s needs means that future candidates — and your members — can expect the same steps and timeline when filling a position.
Needs can include both position details, and the overall group expectations. Keep it short, concise, and clear.
We suggest a one-page summary job description of the following sections, catered to your specific group needs:
- Responsibility & Authority: Outline the position’s key responsibilities; non-monetary benefits such as environment, events, etc. Who do they answer to? What’s their authority?
- Term & Limits: How long will they serve in their capacity? Can they resign or be removed?
- General Duties & Requirements: What are typical daily/weekly/monthly duties, and are there any members or processes they’ll manage?
- Time Commitment: Outline number of hours necessary for meetings, material and process overview, and functions or other tasks.
- Legal & Financial Commitments (If Any*): Are they overseeing financial aspects, and what will they be responsible for? Writing or updating bylaws? Will they have to raise funds?
- Desired Qualifications, Job Skills: General skills required (communication, management, event planning), and others that could be a bonus (marketing/design, fundraising, etc.)
Once you’ve determined a succinct one-page description of the position, start a search within your personal network and move outward to the group’s network.
Begin by asking family members or friends. Then you can start publicizing to current members of the organization, colleagues, and neighbors or people throughout the community.
Another idea is to approach the member you’re replacing to see if they have any insight on the right candidate, or if someone has historically expressed interest in the position.
Pro-Tip: Try a social media post or newsletter that’s easy to blast out to your network, and shareable by those who know of viable candidates
Screening & Selection
The screening of candidates is likely the most important part of recruiting board members. It’s easy to give family or friends a lighter version of your interview, but it’s important to establish some basic questions and interview processes that are fair to everyone.
The screening should eliminate any ambiguities about the position requirements, and reduce any risk of confusion for both the candidate and the organization.
- Develop a basic outline or standard set of questions; start with the six (6) aforementioned points we outlined in the “Define Needs” section above*
- Be transparent about the interview and selection process at the start of the meeting (questions should be addressed at the end*)
- Briefly discuss the organization and your values or mission
- Detail the role description, and have a document prepared to capture responses to all questions for easy recall after all interviews are completed
When you have narrowed down your search to a few candidates, determine a final set of qualifications that will help you and your group select the best fit.
Skills are one thing, but it’s most important to find a match that shares your values and enthusiasm for the mission; not to mention, their ability to contribute in this role specifically.
Call the candidates you short-listed once you’ve made a decision. Explain why you appreciate their commitment throughout the process. Outline what you liked about their candidacy, and what just wasn’t enough this time around. People will appreciate the genuine feedback so that they may improve themselves for an attempt in the future.
The winning candidate should also receive a call followed by an official email with introductions, required documentation, and orientation next steps.
Orientation & Welcome Process
Phew. All the hard parts are over, but you still have to welcome the new member and make the most of their introductions and orientation.
Without a comprehensive process, you will risk having to double back over items or processes down the road. The welcome package should include:
- Organization Overview
- Organizational Structure (contact info for board members, committee chairs, accountant, IT, etc.)
- Bylaws & Reports (Financial reporting, if necessary*)
- Detailed Role Description
- Most Recent Meeting Minutes & Newsletter (if applicable*)
- Schedule & Locations of Meetings
- Any Password or Credentials Needed (Gmail, Quickbooks, Website, etc.)
How PTOffice Helps with Recruiting Board Members
PTOffice is more than a member management tool. Beyond allowing the customization of everything from registration and communication to sign ups and fundraisers, you can gauge volunteer interest and track participation throughout the year. Here are just a few of the tools to help you find the right candidates when recruiting board members:
- Messenger: A user friendly drag-n-drop template builder to customize email and text notifications
- Sign Ups: Establish volunteer criteria, gather general interest, and send auto-reminders all from a mobile-friendly platform
- Notebooks: Add interview outlines and notes, set reminders and individual tasks, link to other PTOffice features (sign ups, etc.), and export summaries for future recruitment
Looking for more information on recruiting board members? BoardSource.org provides a cache of resources that can be tuned specifically to your group’s needs.