VolunteerToday.com ~~ The Electronic Gazette for Volunteerism

Boards and Committees:

They are volunteers, too!


How to have a stronger board. How to be a better board member. Jeanne Bradner, author of THE BOARD MEMBER'S GUIDE, A BENEFICIAL BESTIARY, offers information and the latest techniques to develop your board or committee.

This new page on Volunteer Today focuses on governance, policy-making and advisory volunteers. Its purpose is to help all of those who work with or serve on nonprofit boards of directors or committees.

Send your comments and questions to Jeannebrad@aol.com.

How Boards Go Astray

 The following is my top ten list of how boards go astray:

  1. They weren't recruited properly.
  2. They weren't told up-front about expectations.
  3. There isn't unanimity on the mission of the agency.
  4. Board members, board president, and executive director don't understand their job descriptions.
  5. Board member don't have assignments that are meaningful.
  6. Process at meetings is sloppy.
  7. The board doesn't evaluate itself annually.
  8. There are no term limits for board members.
  9. There are no requirements for attendance.
  10. The board does not evaluate the executive director annually.

In future pages we will talk more on each of these subjects, but first some thoughts...

On Recruitment

Too often boards don't take recruitment seriously enough. They have a nominating committee and 30 days before the annual meeting they will say, "Oh, the annual meeting is coming up. Where are we going to find some new board members?" Recruitment of board members needs to be a year-round responsibility of all board members who participate in submitting names of prospects to the nominating committee. Like recruitment of all volunteers, it needs to be a targeted process, defining the skills and talents needed and then searching for the people who have those skills and talents. All prospects may not be asked to go on the board in a given year, but a wise board develops a list of people who have expressed interest.

Most people want to be meaningfully involved and that's what boards need, so don't be afraid to discuss the serious issues with them. The following are ways to approach someone you hope will consider a position on the board:



 Do's and Don'ts When Recruiting a Potential Board Member


Questions to answer:
  • What is your mission?
  • What is unique about what you do?
  • What is my fund raising responsibility?
  • Why do you need me in particular?
  • Do you have a job description for a board member of your organization?

Don't tell me:
  • The staff does such a great job; there really isn't much to do.
  • We only meet every other month and the meetings are short.

Do tell me:
  • Where you want the organization to be in five years.
  • What your financial goals and concerns are.

Give me:
  • Your annual report
  • Your budget
  • A job description

Make the mission come alive:
  • Link today with the past and the future
  • Discuss real issues, challenges and changes

Jeanne H. Bradner

Jeanne H. Bradner is an author, consultant, trainer and speaker on volunteerism, board development and leadership. She is the author of three publications, Passionate Volunteerism, The Board Member's Guide, A Beneficial Bestiary and Leading Volunteers for Results: Building Communities Today. She served as director of the Illinois Governor's Office of Voluntary Action, Midwest Regional Director of ACTION, and Executive Director of the Illinois Commission on Community Service. She is the volunteer program specialist for Illinois' Harper College Volunteer Management curriculum.

Send your comments and questions to Jeannebrad@aol.com.

Copyright 2001 by Nancy Macduff.

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