So, how do you fill a vacancy on your board? Randomly go through your contact list and pick a name? Accept the recommendation of your board chair to ask her sister’s husband’s best friend? Or are you more deliberative in your efforts?
The composition of your board is important to the mission of your organization. As you consider a potential new board member, consider the following qualities that will help you move your organization into the future:
1. PASSION. Potential board members must be passionate about your organization if they are expected to add value to it. They will get a sense of fulfillment from their role as a board member if they are deeply connected to your cause.
2. EXPERIENCE. As your board governs your organization, a potential board member with relevant professional experiences to your organization is important. Relevant experiences will help them make wise and credible decisions.
3. TIME. A potential board member must be willing to make a serious time commitment to your organization. Attendance at board and committee meetings and the willingness to assume leadership roles are important criteria in choosing a board member. If a candidate is already stretched too thin or is only accepting the position to fill out a resume, don’t choose that person.
4. ATTENTIVENESS. A good board member pays attention to details. Preparing thoroughly for board meetings and being cognizant of potential legal, financial, operational, management problems is important. As you identify potential board members, be sure that they will ask questions and pay attention to details. You do not want a board member who rubber stamps all agenda items.
5. COLLEGIALTIY. Your potential board member must be able to make tough decisions but also be able to work collaboratively with the you and with the entire board. Board members are essential to the leadership of the organization, but they must work as partners with one another as well as with the organization’s leadership.
Not every board member will have all of the above traits but identifying potential board members with complementary characteristics will allow you to build a robust and dynamic organization.Now go forward and strategically build your board in the future!