Prospective Board Members and the Right Questions

When the time comes to look for new board members, there are a couple strategies you can take.  You could meet up with the prospective member one-on-one, or with another current member, for coffee. Or you could come at it from another angle.

Put together profiles of several potentials and bring them to a board meeting.  Then, all together, sort the individuals into 3 groups.

Group A – Candidates who are well-known by the board and can be added immediately if the initial meeting goes well.
Group B – Candidates are not well-known, but if there is mutual interest, membership can be pursued.
Group C – The candidate doesn’t seem like the right fit, but depending on who accepts or declines the offer, they can be moved up to Group B.

Having the right questions ready, too, can make all the difference. Here are some great ones to keep in mind.

For yourself:

What can this person do for us? Don’t only think about who the person is, but what benefit would they be to your board. For example, you might want a certain person on your board because you believe they can connect you to a certain part of the community. Don’t assume they can, but ask them if they think they could.

For the individual:

  • What interests you about our organization? Which aspect interests you the most?
  • What are some of your previous volunteer experiences and leadership roles?
  • What appeals to you about board services as a volunteer activity?
  • If you were to join this board, are there any experiences you would like to have or people you would like to meet?
  • What skills, connections, resources and expertise do you have to offer or are willing to use for the organization?
  • Do you have any worries about joining the board?
  • Is there anything you think you would need to make this experience a successful one for you?
  • If fundraising is an important aspect for your board, clearly state the expectations you would have for the individual and ask if they think it feasible.

The candidate may have questions of their own before agreeing to join your organization’s board. Here are some that you should be prepared for.

  • Why are you interested in me as a board member?
  • What role do you see me playing on your board?
  • What are your expectations and commitments?
  • What is unique about your organizations? Your board?
  • Are there particular discussions this board has difficulty handling?
  • What weaknesses are there in the way the board works together and with staff?
  • What are the major issues this board is facing? How are you addressing them now?
  • If I were to join this board, what would you want me to do during my first year?
  • If I were to join this board, what could I reasonably expect to get out of this experience?

For more, check out the full article on Blue Avocado.

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This article was featured in the January 2012 issue of our monthly newsletter, CDP Press.
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  1. […] Prospective Board Members and the Right Questions (cdpsblog.wordpress.com) […]

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