Summary: In today’s podcast episode, Stephen Halasnik and his guest James Mueller discuss the principles of onboarding and recruiting for nonprofit boards. Bringing on the right person when recruiting a nonprofit board member is crucial for nonprofit success. However, before you are able to find your right candidate, your organization must be able to reflect and know the importance of mission, culture, and core values.
Mission, Culture, and Core Values for Nonprofit Board Training and Onboarding
When onboarding new nonprofit board members, keeping your nonprofit’s mission, culture, and values in mind is crucial for hiring the right person. Before you go interviewing and looking for your perfect candidate, ask yourself “is our culture by default or intentional?” Oftentimes it can become so easy to lose sight of culture and values within an organization, which then translates to the board members. Board members can get caught up in the day-to-day tasks, they forget why they started in the first place.
Consider reflecting and redefining your mission and core values. Your mission is what you do, to whom, and to what effect. If you can’t answer this question clearly and concisely, you may need to do some reflection. What are your organization’s goals and purpose? Who do you want to help? How do you intend to achieve this goal? What are the values by which you operate to achieve this goal? Perhaps your organization and board members have over fifty values, but being able to list the top three or four in which the organization lives and breathes is what should be focussed on.
Knowing these core values can be difficult and time-consuming to get down to the bottom of and figure out sometimes. Nonprofit consults can be a great help in regenerating and resurfacing what your organization’s real values are. Once the values are defined, you want to make sure your board members are all on the same page with these values.
Finding the Right People Who Connection with your Nonprofit
After your nonprofit has done the work to redefine its mission and values, it is important to find the right person who matches them. When recruiting for a nonprofit board, it is imperative to ensure that your candidate’s core values align with your organization’s core values. This is something that is often overlooked and board members are often chosen out of connections or convenience. However, this may be harmful in the long run for the betterment of the nonprofit.
It is the job of the organization to have the proper nonprofit board member job description when sourcing new members. Having the right job description with the proper core competencies you are looking for will help retain better matches for your board. To figure out what you need, analyze what your board is already doing well and what it lacks. In the areas in which it lacks, consider hiring an individual with aligned values who can come in and add a set of skills to strengthen the already existing board. If you bring on a board member who is just another replicant of the skillsets that are already present on the board, you will yield the same results. This can also be applied to a nonprofit board of director’s job descriptions as well.
As we all know, finding the perfect candidate that fits every checkbox can be hard, especially for nonprofit boards. If a candidate has aligned core values and a proper track record, you can expect to have put in nonprofit board training to your new member. With this being said, doing the proper background checks with references is not something to take lightly. Having a strict hiring process will be beneficial for your nonprofit in the long term, and will also allow your candidate to see how serious your organization is about onboarding.
The Importance of Connections
Oftentimes, nonprofit boards focus so much attention on making connections for donations that they think it’s the only form of connections necessary. However, making connections with people in the community that you are trying to reach is also necessary. Of course, making connections for monetary gain is crucial for fundraising, but it is important to go beyond that.
Having connections to those who are influential in the community can also reach more people. Furthermore, having connections with individuals who can add knowledge and have a deeper understanding of how things work will help grow and expand the organization. The more qualified and knowledgeable individuals you know in your sector will help grow, expand, and help add value to your own nonprofit organization.
Having the right connections is also going to help you when your nonprofit management changes. Therefore, when onboarding new candidates, analyze their history and their past connections. What work have they achieved in the past? Have they had successful collaborations in the past? Are they able to work together with a team and meet new people? These are also important aspects to look for in a nonprofit board member so they can adapt if management changes. When management changes, the board must be able to stay intact and be able to bounce off one another.
Nonprofit Board Composition
Inclusion, equity, and diversity are important aspects of building a strong nonprofit board. Recruiting nonprofit board members can be difficult when your organization has been doing things a certain way for a long time. However, changing things up, adding new members, new ways of thinking, and a diverse set of people will allow for growth and change.
Growth and change can not happen in the same environment with the same set of people it began with. When you are onboarding, take into consideration how hiring a diverse set of board members can actually benefit you greatly. Having the correct set of people will allow for tasks to be taken care of and in place at all times.
Having a Clear Vision for the Future
Vision is not an exercise of looking in the mirror to see how great your organization is. Vision is to look outside and know how the world will be different with your efforts. When recruiting for a nonprofit board, you want to ensure that your candidate has the same vision as the rest of your organization as well. If visions are not aligned, then it is going to be hard to have the whole organization on the same page and achieve the mission.
About the Guest James Mueller from James Mueller & Associates LLC
James Mueller has been immersed in nonprofit sector leadership throughout his career—four decades of experience working with or serving on nonprofit boards. From higher education to health care to social service agencies, he has experienced every imaginable combination of good people trying to do good things through board service. As an author, lecturer, philanthropic and organizational strategist, and nonprofit governance expert, Mueller shares a lifetime of learning with nonprofit boards and executives. His work helping nonprofits advance their missions has earned him recognition nationally. The pages of his most recent book, Onboarding Champions, are filled with intelligent and practical advice interwoven with a lifetime of stories about working with nonprofit boards.
About The Host Stephen Halasnik, Financing Solutions
Stephen Halasnik is the host of the popular, The Nonprofit MBA Podcast. The Nonprofit MBA podcast’s purpose is to help nonprofit leaders. Mr. Halasnik is the Co-founder and Managing Partner of Financing Solutions. Financing Solutions is a leading provider of Lines of Credit to nonprofits and small businesses.
Mr. Halasnik is a graduate of Rutgers University and has an Executive Masters from the MIT Birthing of Giants Entrepreneurship program. Mr. Halasnik is a best-selling Amazon author and is considered a leading authority on building great, purpose-driven businesses. Mr. Halasnik lives in New Jersey with his best friend, his wife Gina. Mr. Halasnik’s number one purpose is raising his two boys, Michael and Maxwell, to be good men.
About Financing Solutions Nonprofit Line of Credit
Financing Solutions nonprofit financing product is a great alternative to a traditional bank line of credit because it costs nothing to set up, nothing until used, and when used, is inexpensive. The credit line requires no collateral and no personal guarantees.
Nonprofit Organizations use their line of credit to help with emergencies or opportunities when cash flow is temporarily down (i.e. Payroll funding) so that nonprofit board members don’t need to provide a loan.
Please feel free to fill out the no-obligation, 2-minute nonprofit line of credit application here. The time to set up a credit line is when you don’t need it so that it is ready to be used, just in case.
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