Board of Directors - Board Development Overview

Recruiting new board members who are qualified and committed is one of the most persistent challenges that boards face. It is important to find the right balance of people with different skills and different perspectives, while at the same time making sure they are dedicated individuals with a passion for the cause. Here are four key questions to ask yourself during recruitment:

What are you waiting for?
To begin with, your nominating committee should always be active, not just when your board is five members short. Know how long your board members' terms are and plan to begin cultivating new members at least several months before you have vacancies. Members of the nominating committee should think about this responsibility wherever they are - at work, at social and civic events, and any time they meet new people, read the paper, or watch the news.

How will a new candidate fit into the group?
The group dynamics of the board are critical to its success. That doesn't mean everyone on the board should be alike or always agree. A certain amount of diversity is necessary and healthy for a board. It does mean that everyone on a board should be willing to listen, learn new things, respect others, and focus on the mission of the organization as opposed to promoting personal agendas. When you're talking with prospective board members, consider inviting them to a board or committee meeting to see how they interact with the group.

Who are you missing?
An organization that serves students and faculty might include students and faculty on its board. While it is important to avoid tokenism, it is also worthwhile to think about how to best to include the perspectives of your constituents on your board. If your board is willing to make a commitment to diversity, put it in writing. Remember though, no board member wants to fill a quota, and no one should be expected to. Focus on the board as a diverse mixture of ideas and experiences, not as individuals who represent various ethnicities or other groups.

What expertise are you missing?
Knowledge in a variety of areas, including economic development, education, fund raising, public relations, media relations and publicity, planned giving, marketing, legal issues and technology, can also be helpful in rounding out a strong board. It is critical that board members also understand and be able to discuss the mission and programs of Valencia and the foundation and that they remain mindful of their fiduciary and stewardship responsibilities.