Not-for-profit organizations need strong active engaged boards for long term success. Success can be defined as continually achieving/reaching the potential of the organization. Success can also be defined as continued existence and continuing to providing services. All things change; economy, funding, services needed, staffing, technology – it is reasonable to expect and/or demand that boards also change.
What should you be looking for when searching for a new not-for-profit board member? Obviously they must have knowledge of and support for the mission of the organization. Unfortunately this is not always the case, which causes wasted time and high levels of frustration. If trying to fill a specific seat on the board, make sure that the candidate has the necessary traits and skills. Do you want the person who does not balance their own checkbook to be your treasurer? Do you want someone without a financial background sitting on your audit committee, where they’ll be responsible for reviewing audit proposals? You will need to measure the candidates ability to fulfill the commitments.
Not-for-Profit Board Member Requirements
- Will they attend required board and committee meetings?
- Will they be prepared to discuss the issues at these meeting and not spend the meeting reading the information previously sent?
- Will they speak up and provide their constructive opinions at the meetings?
- Will they support the development requirements of the organization?
Where to Find Not-for-Profit Board Members
We know what we are looking for how do we find it? Consider establishing a working committee whose members are potential board members. This committee should work on assignments that it receives from the board. The committee members should be evaluated periodically. You should be able to find candidates from referrals from current board members, the professionals serving your organization (CPA, attorney, insurance agent, banker), funders and community groups. There should always be a working list of potential board candidates.
Not-for-Profit Board Member Succession Planning
There should be an ongoing dialogue of board succession:
- What are the terms of the board, how long have individuals on the board?
- What is the process to bring on a new board member?
- What is the process to remove a board member?
The Board, as a group, should be evaluated annually as well as all board members, individually. This can be accomplished via questionnaires with results then communicated and discussed. There should be ongoing training for all board members. Consider training in the areas of fiduciary responsibilities, fund raising, current developments, and technology.
The process of having a strong, active, engaged board should be on going.
Contact our Not-for-Profit Accounting Team
Building and maintaining a strong not-for-profit board is difficult. But, it’s not something that you have to do alone. Contact Rea & Associates. Our not-for-profit services team offers more than traditional accounting and audit services. Consultants to the not-for-profit industry, Rea’s not-for-profit accounting team provides advice and best practice sharing on financial and management topics, including board management and succession planning.