Recruit and Retain a Strong Nonprofit Board of Directors in 2014 – Step 2

Step 2 -Plan for the success and sustainability of your organization.


After you have assessed your organization’s and your board’s status and needs, which was discussed in the last blog post titled ‘Recruit and Retain a Strong Nonprofit Board of Directors in 2014 – Step 1’, it is important to plan for your organization’s success and sustainability.  It is important to first determine what type of planning has your organization engaged in at this point in time?  Are you in need of some sort of formal planning?  Has your organization participated in any level of strategic planning?  The status and needs of your organization will help determine what level of formal planning you should complete.

  • Do you need short term planning to get the process started?
  • Are you ready for long term planning?


No matter what level of planning you decide to do at this time, it is important to know how your organization will get from your mission to your vision.  Short term and long term planning will help your organization do that.  When your organization knows where it would like to be and how it will get there (goals and objectives), you can better determine the particular individuals (or the traits, values, skills and strengths of the individuals) that you would like involved to help the organization reach its vision.

Once your board and organization have determined the steps that will lead toward fulfilling the organization’s vision, the board should think about who will be the best fit to complete the steps.  Now it is time to think about the following:

  • Does your organization and board have the people needed to get your organization to fulfill its vision?
  • What backgrounds should your board, staff members and volunteers have?  Public relations, marketing, IT, etc.
  • What type of connections would benefit your organization?  Particular corporations, other nonprofits, etc.
  •  How will you ensure that the people you potentially recruit are a ‘good fit’ for your organization?   It is important to always match up your potential board member’s values and skills with the values of your organization as well as the goals of your board.  What type of person do you want?  How much time and financial contribution do you want from that person?


When you determine who you want to recruit, you will need to determine how to recruit via advertising.  How will you advertise for additional board members?  Remember that your organization’s status will determine the type of advertising that may be appropriate.  For example:

  • If you are a veteran board, you may only need to fill one seat on your board.  You may know exactly who you would like or you may have a few individuals that you would like to fill the empty seat.  Will you draft a recruitment letter to send directly to the individuals that you would like to have on the board?
  • If you are transitioning from your founding board to your working board, will you post the openings on your website? Will you only ask your existing board members to recruit someone new?  It is important to consider what type of finances you may need for advertising.


To prepare for the individuals that you will recruit, do you have the necessary documentation to ensure that person’s success?

  • Has your board drafted Board Member Job Descriptions?  This is critical to ensure that the existing board knows what they expect from new board members as well as ensuring that potential board members know the expectations of them.  Job descriptions will provide the guide lines to prevent, or at least help to deal with, issues that may come up down the line.
  • Does your board have each board member sign and agree to a Board Commitment Letter?  Doing this will ensure that the new board member(s) commit to a certain period of time to serve on the board, will abide by all board by laws, will raise money for your organization, will make their own donation if determined by the board, will represent the organization (in good standing), will attend a certain percentage of meetings (determined by the board), will participate in a certain percentage of events (including fundraisers) and will agree to any other commitments that your board needs.


As stated by author Alan Lakein, “Failing to plan is planning to fail”.  It is worth taking these steps to ensure the support and success of your team and your organization.

If you would like to read the previous installments of Recruit and Retain the Right Board Members for your Board, please go to Introduction and Step 1-Assess.

Photo credit to: Microsoft Office Clip Art

Jeanne Ward is a Consultant and Personal Strategist who brings her knowledge of psychology, strategy and personal fulfillment to her current work. Jeanne started her career by helping mentally ill inmates to ‘get their lives back on track’ as they integrated back into society from jail in NYC. She leveraged this experience with a Social Work degree to manage teams who were supporting people trying to move back into the workforce. She later lived in Atlanta, GA and Frankfurt, Germany where she began consulting with nonprofit organizations to guide them on their strategy, volunteer development, and organizational development as well as to support the development of their leaders and board of directors. After the jolt of a divorce, Jeanne found herself doing a lot of soul-searching. Digging deep, she arrived at a new-found appreciation for herself and the world around her. This journey taught her that when we start with improving ourselves, the benefits multiply. Jeanne realized that her strengths of strategic thinking, relationship building, and implementation planning could be combined into her ongoing passion of personal leadership. Hence, her personal strategy work was born. Jeanne helps men and women between the ages of 35 and 55 who are fed up with their corporate jobs to create fulfilling professional and personal lives through the development of a personal strategic plan. This work ensures that her clients identify their professional and personal goals as well as create a plan to make those goals a reality. Jeanne is also the Executive Director of the Atlanta Road Trotters Kid’s Running Club, a nonprofit organization that provides a platform for children to build a foundation of running health and fitness which leads to a better connection to the organized running community as well as a strong foundation of Discipline, Self-Esteem, Respect and Team Work. She has also co-authored a workbook on networking, founded and organized the National Association of Social Workers-Georgia-sponsored ‘Social Service Career Network’ and organized a summit for the National Alliance for Mentally Ill attended by over 100 organizations from 6 Atlanta counties. Previously, she sat on the board of NASW GA as their Secretary as well as on the board of NAMI GA/DeKalb as their Co-President, was a senior consultant for the Georgia Center for Nonprofits and helped to run a capital campaign for an independent school. Jeanne has an MSW from Hunter School of Social Work (City University of New York), an MA in Forensic Psychology from John Jay College of Criminal Justice (City University of New York) and a BA in Psychology from Emory University. Jeanne lives in Atlanta with her ten-year-old son.

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