Is your board in a rut? Year after year, boards recruit new candidates to fill the roster. Three members finish their terms and three enter to take their places. Filling those slots is a part of the routine, and often the process changes little from year to year. Following the process will keep the board table full, but doesn’t your organization deserve more than that?
Think back over that last 5 years. How is your community different? How has your organization changed to meet the needs? Perhaps your staffing has changed with new priorities, but has your board? Before you even begin recruiting for those 3 board slots that have to be filled by the annual meeting, take a deep breath and a step back.
If you were building your board today, based on the organization’s plans for the future, who would you be looking for? What kind of board do you need if you are:
- Making program changes that need to be explained to the community
- Planning a 3 million dollar capital campaign
- Creating policies and processes for a more formal structure
- Developing a new brand
- Rebuilding after some challenges
- Creating the first planned giving program
- Implementing a community engagement plan
Now, before you start your recruitment, is the perfect time for a board discussion on what it will take to move forward, how the current board sees its role in the plan and what kinds of people are still needed. If you are making a major shift in direction, this may also be an opportunity for individual board members to decide whether they are still a good fit.
Last year, several board members, including me, chose to step down from the board of a local youth organization that was making a shift from providing programs to developing a teen facility. We had struggled through several financially challenging years, and even considered closing the doors. Despite our love for the organization, we were tired. We helped create the groundwork for development of the facility and then stepped aside so that new, passionate and engaged leadership could emerge. This week our community will be celebrating their grand opening!
While board change is usually not that dramatic, adding new members who see the vision and are excited about reaching for it can energize the whole group. And isn’t that what your board, your organization and your community deserve?