The most important characteristics of a nonprofit board member extend far beyond work experience and education. While these factors are important, less tangible aspects of a prospective board member might be more valuable to your organization. Here’s what to look for in a great board member for your nonprofit.
Professionals in your community want to join your board for a number of reasons. Some do it for career advancement. Volunteering your time with a nonprofit at a board level is a wonderful legacy. Others want to give back to the community. Some have a strong connection or passion for the work being done by your nonprofit.
Finding enthusiastic and passionate board members helps you create a focused board that is willing to go the extra mile. You can rely most on board members who truly believe in your mission and have a passion for your cause. Other skills are learned, but a true love of feeding the hungry, rescuing pets, or sharing the arts is innate.
An important nonprofit board member characteristic is enthusiastic support of your cause, and the time and inclination to participate. Board members that are in an ideal state to contribute serve you best. Those who can financially contribute, who can take time off for meetings and fundraising, and who are not overcommitted elsewhere will be most able to participate at the level you need. Often, nonprofits think they should prize high net worth board members. However, someone with time to help and a willingness to jump in is often much more valuable in the long term.
Your board is likely stocked with educated professionals in similarly aligned fields. Unfortunately, a board created entirely of one type of professional may lack the creative skills to swiftly solve problems with a variety of “out of the box” ideas. A board member with creativity will bring fresh ideas to the table and offer additional skill sets. The addition of a single copywriter, graphic designer or videographer to your board means an influx of fresh possibilities for your brand.
Board members are inherently successful at their regular jobs. Therefore, they are also almost always used to being in a leadership role. While this is an incredibly useful attribute for a board that needs to get things done, a willingness to listen and learn from others is also an asset. When you cultivate members who have a learning mindset and are willing to listen to and explore new ideas, you open your brand up to more possibilities. Your board members will also get more from the experience if they pick up some new experiences they can apply to other work. Sometimes, simple open mindedness is the best nonprofit board member characteristic.
You may only meet with your board once a month, so it’s essential to communicate well in all forms. This includes everything from staying in touch between meetings to fundraising and reaching out to others on your behalf. Stocking your board with good communicators also ensures things don’t get tied up because of interpersonal conflict or a lack of agreement. People who communicate well and have good resolution skills can usually get through a conflict swiftly and positively. (RELATED: Boardable New User Experience Walk-Through )
Some of the nonprofit board member qualifications that will benefit your organization best are intangible and not easy to measure. Nonetheless, they are definitely worth looking for. Best of luck in your next board member search!
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