Creating a Strong and Committed Board: Recruitment Strategies in a Virtual World

Fall is just around the corner and with it comes more than sweaters and pumpkin spice everything.  Fall affiliate board meetings bring thoughts of new members for affiliate foundation boards.  The first goal on the Criteria for Success strategic plan is to have a strong and committed board, and now is the time to explore what this means in your communities.  The third and fourth quarter meetings are when you examine your membership and ask the important questions: 

“Who is not at our table, and how do we get them here?”

The innovative artist Pablo Picasso once said, “There is only one way to look at things, until someone shows us how to look at them with different eyes.”  Herein lies the value of multi-faceted diversity in life as well as in the boardroom.  

Grant decision conversations where everyone at the table has the same background and similar life experiences may become linear and one-dimensional. There is incredible benefit in the collaboration of vastly different backgrounds, careers, demographics, cultures, and lived experiences. 

When we highlight one another’s talents, skills, and even the quirks…when we listen to the stories and look at life with the different eyes of our fellow board members, the resulting multitude of perspectives puts the “community” in community foundation work.

Recent times have given us the dichotomy of expanding our world while at the same time narrowing it.  Board members may, as human nature tends to dictate, gravitate towards nominating new board members with whom they are well acquainted.  There is benefit in familiarity, and some very active and committed board members have come through these types of contacts. Still, we have to be mindful of our ultimate goal to represent the fullness of the community we serve.  But how do we do this, especially in a virtual world? 

Start with “Why?”  Why is this diversity of perspective so important to your work?  Some boards have found it helpful to watch or read outside resources about the importance of diversity either as a group or individually before their recruitment discussions.  One resource you may find helpful is Dr. Katherine Phillips’ talk “Why Diversity Matters” which was shared as part of the Virtually Together series last year.

Then, take a look at your Community Needs Assessment.  It contains information about the demographic makeup of your county that can guide your own membership composition.  It can also help you consider the most pressing issues in your community and whether there are people on the board with knowledge about or experience with those needs. 

That will lead to “Who?”  Really examine who is already on the board and who is not.  Consider all of “who” you serve and whether they are represented on the board.  Think about who could broaden your understanding of community needs and resources.  Take a scan of who lives where in the county and which communities are missing.  And outside of your own usual circles, there are likely to be partners, collaborators, and other community groups with similar interests that may hold potential new members.

So, now you arrive at “How?”  With the information brought to the surface so far, the board can begin to make a recruiting plan.  Here are some thoughts to get you started:

With what the world has delivered in the past year plus, creativity has become invaluable, and we cannot wait to see what you come up with to build and strengthen your board.  Ultimately, the whole community will be stronger, too. 

And let us know how we may support you in bringing different eyes and community voices to your affiliate board in 2022.  As always, thank you for all you do in preparing for the future of your board and your community!