Recruitment is a key part of the organizational development cycle. Recruiting is not just about how, but who and what—who do you want on your board and what skills and qualities are you seeking to help govern your organization. Recruitment should be an ongoing process for boards so that ideally when it's time to select new members organizations have a pool of skilled, appropriate and diverse individuals to draw from.
While some organizations have recruiting protocols similar to hiring paid staff such as advertising and interviewing, others keep the process more informal. Regardless of the approach, boards at a minimum should:
- Assess their needs in terms of skills, experience and diversity
- Have clear board job descriptions
- Have an application and screening process
Some boards have specific requirements in terms of representation. For example, regional literacy networks in Ontario are expected to have at least 50% of their board members from literacy agencies. CLO has a regional board structure where board members must come from all the diverse regions of the province. Other non-profit organizations may have bylaws that specify representation based on gender, culture, geography and/or age. Boards may also have designated seats for clients. During the recruiting process, boards need to ensure that any designated positions or representatives are covered. Regardless of what interests and organizations your board members represent, they are expected to act in the best interests of your organization (see Section Four: Duty of Diligence).
Other attributes boards look for when recruiting are related to skills. For example, a board may want to have someone experienced in finance and accounting or public relations and marketing. Professional, such as accountants and lawyers who hold volunteer positions on a board can be valuable because of the expertise they bring, but it's important not to treat this as free access to services and advice.
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