Let’s start with this given: your board is critically important to your organization’s impact and future sustainability. Nothing new here, nor should there be. But how many of you have public or private conversations around comments such as, “I wish I had a different mix of board members,” “I wish we had some bigger thinkers,” “I wish the new board members could get on track faster” or “I’m not sure how we can leverage past board members.” The comments could continue.
I want to address ways to innovate in recruiting that will result in an exceptional board.
Of course, you start with the “required” board matrix that identifies the skill sets of your board and the voids that exist in your board. What skills have you included that need to be represented? My guess would be they are the “standards” such as accounting, communications, operations and legal, to name just a few. I am not suggesting these aren’t important skills to have represented, but I want to suggest seven new skills to include as you recruit new board members:
New Media/Emerging Technology/Social Media Specialist: A board member that “lives” the changing nature of how information is shared can help your organization develop a stronger story that gets to your constituent groups most effectively.
Researcher: A board member that is a research professional will help your organization continue to get the right kinds of insights from your core constituents, which provides focus and presents new opportunities.
Software Engineer or IT Manager: Reliance on technology will only become more critical to nonprofit organization; have a board member that can lead this conversation.
Product Manager: As earned revenue becomes more important to nonprofits, having a board member that is experienced at developing, distributing and marketing a product or service will be very valuable. Note: This role is very different than the communications skill your board probably already has represented;
Sales Specialist: This is the person that can be of great help in the development area as they will be skilled at prospecting, relationship dynamics, motivations and “closing” business.
M & A specialist: Someone that knows the nuances of successful mergers and acquisitions.
Visionary: Granted, this is not a title you’ll typically find, but I add it as a skill that would be highly desirable on your board. This person is someone that is not afraid to dream, explore and change. This is someone that will keep the idea of innovation alive and well on your board.
Adding board members with these skills will help bring innovation to your organization in no time.