When I engage non-profit organizations in board development related issues, it can be like simultaneously operating in two parallel and polar opposite universes. One universe exists where everyone is talking about how things are “supposed to be” done. This is described in the agency’s written board development plan. In the other universe, there are board members and staff sitting around a table talking about “some guy” they know without any discussion about board composition gap assessment, prospect lists, prospect evaluation or anything that sounds like process.
Growing the capacity of your non-profit board is a complicated formula that includes you doing the following:
- Understanding the holes you need to fill.
- Successfully identifying prospects who fill those gaps.
- Thoughtfully evaluating and factoring in a prospect’s skill sets/talents and experiences so a smart determination can be made about moving forward with recruitment.
- Developing and using a recruitment process that sets expectations and helps a potential prospect see what they are potentially say ‘YES‘ to doing before making that commitment.
- Employing a thorough new board member orientation program and ongoing boardroom training calendar.
- Developing and using tools (e.g. performance plans, dashboards, scorecards, etc) to show board members where they’re at and what they still need to do.
- Engaging in year-end evaluation discussions focused on recognition and deeper engagement.
Your board governance and board development program will be “top shelf” if you do ALL of these things. Just having it in writing doesn’t count. You need to practice what you preach.
Not doing even one or two of these things is akin to skipping ingredients in a recipe. Following this analogy through to its logical conclusion, I ask you to imagine what a bread recipe looks like if you forget to add the yeast or the flour.
I often hear board development committee volunteers and staff openly complain about how hard it is to:
- identify good prospects
- ascertain skill sets and experiences
- complete prospect evaluation exercises in a satisfying manner
With this in mind, I am reminded of an old “Mondays with Marissa” post from a year ago titled “How Nonprofits Can Maximize LinkedIn to Grow Their Community“. In that post, Marissa talked briefly about LinkedIn’s new Board Member Connect connect service. This was a new service launched in 2012, and it was just getting off the ground.
In the last few days, I was poked by LinkedIn about this fee-based service for non-profit organizations. They’re organizing another informational webinar on Wednesday, September 4, 2013 at 1:00 pm (Central Time). Click here to learn more and register.
In the meantime, I thought I would take a look around the blogosphere to see what others were saying about LinkedIn’s Board Member Connect service. The following are just a few of the more interesting articles I decided to share with DonorDreams blog readers who might be interested in learning more:
- Organizational Solutions blog: “Can LinkedIn Board Member Connect Revolutionize Nonprofit Board Recruitment?“
- Beth’s Blog: “5 Ways to Make LinkedIn Board Connect Work for Your Nonprofit“
- Take Two blog: “How LinkedIn Can Boost Your Board“
What I found most interesting is that I didn’t come across any web reviews from non-profit leaders who’ve used LinkedIn’s Board Member Connect service. It makes me wonder if . . . a) no one is really using this service or b) everyone is so happy that there isn’t even one random web review complaint?
I suppose the only way for your agency to find out is to attend the webinar and ask around.
Have you used LinkedIn’s Board Member Connect service? What was your experience? If not, how else is your board development committee identifying good prospects for your board? Please scroll down and share your thought, ideas and practices in the comment box below. We can all learn from each other.
Here’s to your health!
Founder & President, The Healthy Non-Profit LLC