Stanford University’s Center for Social Innovation (CSI) has isolated some tangibles — and intangibles — that people who’d like to serve on a nonprofit board should consider when choosing an organization. And that’s wisdom you might want to keep in mind when looking for new board members. CSI notes that, among other qualifiers, the best matches take place when the potential board member:
Falls in love with the cause. People have the best experiences on boards when the nonprofit’s cause resonates deeply with them and they get their hands dirty in volunteer program work. This allows them to understand the organization’s activities — and the people who benefit from them — from the inside out.
Picks an organization in the right developmental stage. Individuals who like hands-on experiences and overseeing day-to-day operations would likely fit well with a smaller organization, as would people who enjoy greater visibility and opportunities for input into major decisions. Those who prefer focusing on more strategic issues, the “big picture,” and network development and collaboration might be better suited to a larger, more mature organization.
Likes the “in-laws.” Potential board members should meet existing board members before signing on to get an idea if they’ll be able to work harmoniously and efficiently with them. Good matches often happen when the new member has gained an insider’s perspective from someone he or she already knows on the board.