Step 3 – Attracting new board members
Now that you have developed a good understanding of who you are looking for and what might attract people to join your board – you need to get the message out there.You will need to consider how and where to promote the opportunity and then how you will find out whether these people are suitable for the role.
Advertising the role
Your promotion ideas should focus on who you want to attract. For example, if you are recruiting internally then your promotional activity will be focused upon them. If you are looking to recruit someone new to your organisation then your promotional activity will be much more externally focused.
Put yourselves in the shoes of your ideal person and think about where they are likely to go, what activities they may undertake and where they would get their information. For example, would the person you are looking for use social media, local or community facilities, or use a professional network?
Your board will need to decide which promotional activities are best suited to finding the person they identified in Activity 2: Skills and Experience Table. Take a look at Activity 5: Promotional ideas to help your board decide which promotional techniques are right for you. There is also an action column so you can ensure that tasks can be assigned to the right people to get the job done.
If your board has decided that an advert or poster is the best way to promote your board member vacancy, take a look at Activity 6: How to write a winning advert, which will give you some idea of what information to include.
You may also want to refer to the list that you completed in Activity 4 Board member motivations so that you can include the benefits of becoming a board member with your organisation in the advertisement.
It is important to focus just as much on ‘selling the role’ to your members (where you have them) as to those outside your organisation – there may be some great people involved in your organisation who haven’t thought about being a board member before.
Even where you have a representative board, you may want to think about promotional activities that make people aware of the role and the procedures for putting themselves forward. For example, is there a coach representative or an officials representative, and are those respective groups of people aware of the expectations for the nominated person?
Jenny Fromer, Baseball Softball UK: "For BSUK, the ability to reach a broad network in our search for highly skilled board members is critical. We have had success from this approach previously, and know that there are exceptional volunteers out there who respond to this type of opportunity."
What if people want to know more?
It is difficult to provide everything about the role and your organisation in a single advert. Consider adding information to your website (where you have one) so people can read more.
Potential board members may want to talk to someone from the organisation to find out more about the role, so you might want to offer people the opportunity to email or call someone for an informal chat. You need to think about who is best placed to respond to these enquiries. It is key that people do get a response in a timely manner.
Meeting with potential board members
It is a good idea to meet potential board members. This will give them the opportunity to ask any questions that they might have about your organisation or board. It also gives you an opportunity to find out if the person is right for the role.
Being a board member requires a big commitment from an individual, but a formal interview to decide who will serve your organisation may not always be appropriate. You need to decide on the right process for your organisation and what best meets your needs. Try to put applicants at ease – you don’t want to lose them at the first hurdle.
In some cases your process for appointment will dictate whether a meeting is appropriate, for example if board members are voted in at an AGM it may not make sense to meet potential board members before they have been appointed.
Meeting them beforehand may also may raise the individual’s hopes and expectations of being appointed. However, if your board intend to make recommendations to your members at your AGM, then it may be useful to meet them in some capacity in order to make an informed judgement.
If you dont have a formal interview, how else can you meet potential board members? Have you got any events, championships or awards evenings that you can invite potential board members to? This may give the board member a chance to get a ‘feel’ for the culture of the organisation and the impact that you and they could have. It will also allow them to ask questions that they may not feel able to do in a formal setting.
However, it should once again be noted that if board members are voted in at an AGM it may not make sense to invite them to your events beforehand as this may raise the individual’s hopes and expectations of being appointed.
If individuals have to fill out a nominations form then it is essential to incorporate a section on the form regarding eligibility, to ensure that the individual is eligible. You can adapt the language from Activity 8 Declaration form to help you here.
Board meeting observation
You may find that one of the reasons people are reluctant to become board members is because they feel it is all hard work with no benefit. To overcome this, why not let people observe one of your meetings to see what happens at a typical meeting, meet you all and see what being a board member is all about?
It is good for people to see the difference you make, the issues you discuss, and what it means to be a board member of your organisation. There should be honesty and transparency in the board meetings and you shouldn’t be trying to put on a show for the new board members. It is important to see how matters are discussed and how any conflicts of opinions are dealt with.
One key issue for many people may be worries about personal liability. You need to be able to frankly discuss this and let them know about the measures such as insurance or incorporation that you have taken to manage this.
People may be reluctant to join a board if they feel they are opening themselves up to being personally liable. See help and resource for further information on managing this process.
Payment of Board members
You also need to be clear about whether your board members will be paid or whether you will be only providing out of pocket expenses. In some circumstances, and where your organisations is not a registered charity, you may wish to consider whether your organisation wants (and has constitutional powers) to pay board members for their role, rather than recruiting them as volunteers.
Your organisation needs to think carefully about the consequences of paying board members, both for delivering services to the organisation and the role and responsibilities of the individual board members. Board members who are paid may be accountable in law but those who act voluntarily are not. It is therefore critical that you consider all consequences of your decision.
If you are a registered charity there are specific requirements around the payment of trustees. Further information can be found at the Charity Commission – CC3 Trustee Expenses and Payment.
You may want to consider whether interviewing board members is appropriate for your organisation. If board members are elected at your AGM then interviewing applicants may not be appropriate. However, it may be useful if your board wants to make recommendations at the AGM for you, as an organisation, to meet the potential board members beforehand.
If your organistation does not have a process which allows for appointing and selecting new board members then you may want to think about running a more formal interview. You should think about who you want to sit on the interview panel. Should it be the Chair and Chief Executive – should it also consist of current or former board members?
You may also want someone from an independent organisation to give their thoughts. Many professional recruitment processes ask for an external panel member. When you have agreed your panel it is also worth thinking about the types of questions you want to ask and again it is important to be consistent across the interviews so you can compare and make a sound judgement on suitability.
Activity 7: Create interview questions template gives you some ideas for questions and also a template that you may wish to adapt and use for interviews.
Activity 6 examples
- British Triathlon Board
- British Triathlon Chair
- Baseball Softball UK Board
- Baseball Softball UK Application Form
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