07 June 2007

Board Member Selection

Welcome back!

I am often asked about how to populate a board of directors with the right people and there are often some assumed answers to the question by the questioner. Most recently this question was asked on the LinkedIn network:

What's the best way to find Board Members for a US based non-profit? We are looking for several individuals who have a passion for classical music and the resources and connections to support, sustain and expand our mission. Most meetings take place via teleconference.

I answered it this way:

“It is not entirely clear whether you are asking for people on LinkedIn to present themselves as prospective board members or if you are looking to identify a clear process for finding the right people to populate the board. When Capacity Partnership Group is helping an organization clarify the process, we suggest the following are the two most important indicators that a good board member is presenting him or herself: (1) the candidate has demonstrated commitment to the organization and its mission, and (2) the candidate has the discipline and the capacity to think abstractly to do the work of governance process. To find someone who will do the work of governance, that must be clearly defined and the practice of the current board of directors. Boards have specific job outputs that ensure that it is doing governance work. Among those job outputs are writing explicit board-level policy, linkage to the moral ownership, and organizational accountability to accomplish what it should while avoiding unacceptable situations and circumstances. It is our consulting practice to train boards and provide necessary technical assistance to put together and utilize a complete system to board governance. This is the essential prerequisite to finding the board members who can help with the outcomes you have described.”

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