If anything, the board of directors for a nonprofit organization should be assembled more carefully even than that for a for-profit business. Your board of directors consists of the people who will be responsible for the success or failure of your nonprofit organization, and they will play an integral role in the future of the organization as far as reputation and integrity.
Assembling Your Board of Directors: Commitment
Many start-up nonprofit organizations make the mistake of hiring their board of directors because of status or experience. Those two qualities are wonderful to have, but they are moot if the directors lack commitment to your cause.
Most nonprofit organizations stem from a deep passion toward a particular subject. Whether it be feeding the homeless, curing the ill or assisting troubled youth, your board of directors must be as passionate about – and committed to – the cause as you and your volunteers are.
Assembling Your Board of Directors: Work Ethic
Most nonprofit organizations do not gain reputations or followings from board members who sit in conference rooms, tossing around ideas and counting money. Directors must be just as willing to roll up their sleeves and work hands-on to ensure the success of the organization.
This is where commitment and work ethic collide; your board of directors must be assembled with people who care deeply about the cause and who are willing to get their hands dirty. If not, the success of your organization depends on volunteers alone, which is shaky at best.
Assembling Your Board of Directors: Community Ties
This is where your nonprofit organization becomes political, which is something you can’t avoid. If your directors have no ties to the community – i.e. family, jobs, community service, etc. – then it will be that much harder to gain recognition as an organization. Retired people, former politicians, stay-at-home moms and local media personalities are excellent starting points for your board of directors.
Assembling Your Board of Directors: Diversity
If your entire board of directors consists of Caucasian males between the ages of 45 and 60, your nonprofit organization will suffer. Instead, look outward and collect people of different races, ethnicities, backgrounds and financial status. People of different religions and political affiliations are also invaluable because they will draw support from different media.
Assembling Your Board of Directors: Personality
This is something that is arguably the most important quality that members of your board can have. An energetic, infectious, buoyant personality will draw attention more easily than someone who is quiet and withdrawn. Your board of directors must consist of people who are willing to use their personalities to gain attention and support.