When you identify a good match of board need and individual qualities, it’s time to invite the prospect to become a member. Any invitation should include a description of what the board needs/expects from board members. Don’t minimize your requirements – it is better to provide an accurate picture and be turned down than to bring on board someone who is unwilling or unable to fulfill his/her responsibilities later on.
Recruitment should be a two-way process that provides the prospect an opportunity to ask questions and clarify expectations ahead of time. You may want to include a trial period, e.g., ask the recruit to visit one or more meetings before a commitment is requested. This will allow the prospect and board to get acquainted and to test the fit before a commitment is made.
Newer boards – Identify baseline materials needed to bring board members up to speed as they join the group, and create a board handbook for distribution to all new recruits. Select a format (e.g., three-ring binder) that allows updating as they receive new printed information. As you recruit charter board members, target individuals who can be active. Establishing and developing a new board is labor-intensive work that should be shared by all members.
Veteran boards – Consider requiring prospective board members to visit at least one meeting, and giving them a chance to ask questions about that visit, before making an offer to join. As new recruits join, present them with a board handbook (including minutes from at least two previous meetings) and spend some time (board president, board mentor or other designee) reviewing its contents with them.
Some questions to guide discussion:
• How do we recruit prospective board members?
• What information do we provide to assist them with their decision?
• How can we diversify our pool of recruits (and referral sources)?
• How could we improve these processes?