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Don's Corner

Selecting Board Members Who Will Make a Difference?

The selection process of board members for camps is often very haphazard. A board member has a friend who has a friend who might be interested in helping the camp and presto, that person now joins the board.

There are some tried and successful methods of identifying, selecting and evaluating board members which can make a difference in the overall effectiveness of your board.

The identification process is extremely important and has three key ingredients:

  1. Establish a profile and a job description. It’s imperative that you know the type of individuals you are looking for and that there is a specific job description that outlines the expectations of board members. The greatest complaint I hear from volunteers is that they have no job description and the expectations are never clearly discussed prior to joining the organization.
  2. Constantly develop a prospect list. You must have the right target in order to get the right kind of people. Prospecting for board members is just as important and perhaps more important that prospecting for major donors.
  3. Determine their readiness and commitment in three key areas:
    • Financially (wealth)
    • Time and Energy (work)
    • Use of Wisdom and Talents (wisdom)

    Dr. David Hubbard, long-time President of Fuller Seminary, sought three characteristics in every board member: wealth, wisdom and work. That’s the equation that I think makes the difference. Board members need to know how to deal with wealth, i.e., help to raise more and, hopefully, some of them have wealth. Further, they need to use their wisdom in making good decisions and they need to use their time and energy to work on behalf of the organization.

The selection process is equally important. If boards use a bad process, the result is the wrong type of people. It’s important to have a board membership committee with the following key responsibilities: selection process, prospect list, communication with nominees in conjunction with the executive director, bring final nominees to the board for action, check references and interview each candidate in conjunction with the executive director. The executive director needs to be part of the recruitment process as well in helping to recruit prospects, meeting with the membership committee to review the candidate list, sharing his vision for the ministry with all the final candidates and interviewing the candidates in conjunction with the board membership committee.

The rest of the board is not excluded from the process. My experience as a college trustee is that the best prospects come from individual board members who refer those people to the CEO and the membership committee. The board as well needs to review and approve the final candidate list before people are actually accepted as board members.

One of my chief concerns is the type of information packet which is presented to board member prospects. I think it needs to include the following:

  • An outline of the selection process
  • A board member profile
  • A board position description
  • The organization’s statement of faith
  • A brief biographical questionnaire

Finally, good boards hold themselves accountable through an evaluation system, high expectations and the ability to perform. The key to both accountability and evaluation is the board chairperson who must provide leadership and set a high standard for the quality of boardsmanship in the organization.

In a day when a lot of non-profit organizations are struggling, those that are very successful generally have excellent boards. My challenge is that you pray, work diligently and target individuals who will raise the level of professionalism, spiritual commitment and financial resources for your ministry.

  1. Does your board have a job description?
  2. Is there a board handbook?
  3. Do you have an active board membership/nomination committee?

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