At CSCI, we created a volunteer position specifically aimed at setting up and organizing the board of directors. This was useful because she was able to research best practices and really engage with new and potential board members and give the attention needed. It’s a cool role because the person gets to seek out and engage with interesting and accomplished fields. Make sure you have someone who is professional and a good communicator!
Our amazing Board of Directors Lead volunteer put together excellent resources on creating a great board. That is our first piece of advice: if you have the resources, a volunteer to help recruit and run the board is an incredible asset!
Our Board How-to FilesEdit
We will be putting more of the info in wiki format soon, but in the meantime please follow the below link to some files we uploaded onto google drive, note in particular:
1) The Document with the Steps to Recruiting our Board
2) Primer for the Rights, Responsibilities, and Duties of a Not for Profit Board in Canada
3) Example Letter we used to recruit potential board members
4) Example Commitment Agreement we provided for board members
5) Matrix we used to get the perfect mesh of skills and personalities
Type of Board - Management or Governance?Edit
Decide if your board will be a management board or a governance board. Or a hybrid.
Management board = actively involved in functions, almost as though they are operational volunteers, ie. Marketing expertise board member may spend several hours a week or month doing marketing stuff.
Governance board = very high level oversight and just making sure the organization is doing its due diligence and moving in a good direction. ie. Marketing board member may be asked for help in the strategy or approving strategy, but unlikely to be doing the legwork for marketing
Many board members who are quite senior will be more likely to join if you make it clear they are a governance board, so they aren’t worried you’ll be asking them for a lot of their time. But some are happy to take part more actively in operations of the organization. CSCI’s board is mainly governance but some like to get more hands on and a couple have even led and planned workshops.
Also, Advisory Boards!
Advisory Boards don't typically take on the legal responsibilities of a board of directors. They are often experienced individuals willing to be publicly affiliated with the organization who will provide guidance from time to time in their areas of expertise.
More Board Hiring ConsiderationsEdit
-Diversity isn’t just a buzzword, it’s proven that diversity in gender, ethnicity, age, backgrounds, industry leads to better governance and decision making [wiki readers, please provide links to this research if you have time!]. If your board members always agree with each other, you maybe should shake it up a bit and add people who will challenge your views.
-When hiring for board members, it’s usually good to have people with experience in:
- The topics/communities your organization is working in
- HR professional
- Finance professional
- Fundraising / revenue generation experience
- Someone with board experience
- Someone with new board experience for new organizations
- Also possibly people with marketing experience and public relations
-Board members with extensive networks who are willing to leverage them
-Also consider not just individual talents and personalities, but how the board will get along as a team when putting it together.
NOTE: Board members are personally liable at times for the organization, so neither you nor they should take it lightly, and you should never take offence if they ask followup questions and ask you to demonstrate and provide evidence of what you’ve been doing