08 Jul A Surprisingly Easy Place to Find GREAT Board Members
In the last several years, I have met more than a few land trusts whose board directors did not support the organization financially – at least not 100%. Membership for these organizations starts around $35, but these directors weren’t even doing that.
How does this happen?
Or put another way, why do we ask people who do not support the organization to assume leadership positions and serve on the board?
I think it’s a problem of recruiting strategy.
We allow organizations to be led by the “most likely available” instead of the “passionately supportive.” After all, the passionately supportive might not be available in the moment. (They might be engaged on other boards.) Maybe we’ve never met them. And anyway, asking people we know, and know are available, is much easier even if they have never before shown much interest.
Shouldn’t we be willing to take the time to meet – and cultivate – passionate supporters?
Like one brain surgeon said to another: “C’mon, it’s not rocket science!”
1. Let’s consider for a moment what we ask board members to do:
- Attend as many as twelve meetings each year (and that’s not to mention committee meetings!), often in the evenings and often lasting more than three hours,
- Lead groups of volunteers on stewardship work parties, member field trips, and fundraising events,
- Represent the organization, in good times and bad, in public,
- Take personal responsibility for the organization’s financial health,
- Give money in amounts that show leadership to others, and
- Raise money.
2. Why would anyone do this? Why would anyone agree to do this?
- Because they are passionate about the mission, and
- Because they believe that this is the right organization to get it done.
3. Keeping in mind that “actions speak louder than words,” how might we know that a person is passionate enough about the organization?
- Because they show their passion through their current giving.
4. Why look for good board members outside your current membership before looking inside?
“But David,” comes the reply, “Can’t people show their passion through their volunteer work?”
Sure, as long as they know that we need and expect board directors to be community leaders, and this includes giving of their time and giving of their money – BOTH.
The easiest way to see this is to consider the opposite circumstance. Suppose someone were willing to give their money but never their time. “I’ll give you money periodically, but don’t ever ask me to come to a meeting or volunteer on a project.” Would you consider asking this person to be a board director? I rest my case.
People should not give money to an organization because they serve on the board. They should give money because they believe in the work enough to give money. Doing so shows the kind of passion for the mission that inspires others – especially other donors. Seems like a minimum requirement for board service to me.
Photo credit: Banana Palms, courtesy of C. Miko Dargitz.