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Dysart Community Center
Being an Executive Director of a small organization, I often get asked how I recruit board members and where I find them. I think my tactics can be applicable for any geographically-based nonprofit, a start-up organization, or any smaller nonprofit seeking new members.
When I am seeking new board members I start with our own volunteer base. I sit down with the Board President and Volunteer Coordinator to identify those individuals who are going above and beyond their volunteer duties, are passionate about our mission, and have proven to the staff that they are committed to our organization. These are the individuals who often express their gratitude to the staff every time they stop in, they walk in with a huge smile on their face, act as a community advocate, and believe in our mission. These are the unsung heroes of the organization that deserve to have a larger role because they are exactly the type of board member that you want.
Dysart Community Center is located in the Northwest Valley, so when recruiting new board members, we look local. It does not make sense for us to recruit individuals from East Phoenix because it is a rather long drive for a volunteer commitment. Therefore, we focus our efforts on those who live west of the I-17 and look for other community groups with community-minded individuals. For example, we seek out local service groups such as Kiwanis, Rotaries, etc., and also partner with our local religious affiliates to find community leaders. It is usually very clear who the leaders are of these organizations because whether they are in-front speaking to the group, or behind the scenes, they are the ones who approach us afterward to see how they can best support the organization and what they can do to help.
It is important to note that the board and executive director do have a matrix, at least in mind, of the skills that are needed on the board of directors. It could be that we are seeking someone with a financial background, an individual who knows how to build community relationships and/or a potential candidate who is interested in fundraising. Granted, we look for the passionate individuals, but we also account for the needs of our board and potential members who can fill those gaps.
Upon approaching new board members we let these individuals know the value they bring to the organization and that they have been hand-selected. It is important these individuals understand that by doing their daily volunteering, they have stood out. It is a huge compliment to be asked and selected as a potential board member. From there it is up to the board president, the executive director and/or the board nominating committee to determine with the potential candidate if it is a good fit for everyone involved. The particular individual may not be able to make the commitment, so it is important to be certain the person is ready to become a board member.
My recommendation is to “start local” next time you are looking and don’t forget to target those outstanding volunteers who are already committed to your organization. It is a great way to recognize someone for going above and beyond and supporting your organization. Now the next step is how to do some basic board development training, but we’ll leave that for another blog post! Happy Recruitment!
Jessie is Executive Director of Dysart Community Center. She was recruited for her passion, drive, and commitment to serving others who are seeking to reach the “American Dream.” Jessie comes to Phoenix from Chicago before she made the move to Tucson to become a Wildcat for life! She is Board Member for YNPN Phoenix and a recent graduate of the 2011-2012 Generation Next Nonprofit Leadership Academy. She believes that young nonprofit leaders are going to move Phoenix into the forefront of the nonprofit industry.
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Click here to read "Seven Key Skills of High Impact Nonprofit Leaders," by Karen Ramsey.