Getting Started with Board Recruitment

Posted in board of directors / board committees

Getting Started with Board Recruitment

Your non-profit has done the work. You’ve got a nominations committee ready and willing to get to work finding new board members. There’s a team of other board members and staff helping to build a list of names of potential nominees and keeping a keen eye out for more names to add. But what, exactly, does the nomination committee do?

The best of intentions won’t be enough to attract potential board members if the people doing the asking don’t have a game plan for how to ask, and a tool kit to help answer questions and guide the process.

Building a toolkit is the best place to start to provide the nominations committee members with the information they need, not just for potential candidates, but also to help them understand the process.

Begin by pulling together 6 digital tools. It helps if some these items can live on a non-profit’s website. That allows both a potential nominee to access information on-demand and gives the nominations committee a place to go to print materials, or to link to, as part of the follow-up.

Recruitment Toolkit – The elevator pitch.

An elevator pitch is a colloquial name for a 1-2 sentence phrase that explains who the non-profit is, who they help, and how they do that. It is surprisingly easy to get muddled up when trying to describe the work of a non-profit, so it helps to have this written and polished in advance.

Recruitment Toolkit – A one-pager.

This is some sort of promotional document that provides a bit more information than the elevator pitch. It can be as simple as printing the ‘About Us’ page from the website or using the most recent annual report. The idea is to create a progression of information.

Recruitment Toolkit – The role of a board member.

Now we’re getting into the specifics of the position. Non-profits are very different. Some require board members to handle all fundraising, some non-profits need board members to do the day-to-day work because there’s no paid staff, and others want board members to stick strictly to governing. Having a bit of information specific to being a board member, will ensure a potential nominee fully understands what will be expected of them, long before they get into the job.

Recruitment Toolkit – Meetings, terms, and dates.

Joining a board can be a big commitment. It is important to have a summary document that outlines the meeting schedule, term length, and governing style. It is important to resist copying the full policy, and rather, opt to summarize in a paragraph or two.

Recruitment Toolkit – Application form.

Whether online, or hard copy, having the application form readily available makes it easier to distribute.

Recruitment Toolkit – The WHY Script.

Finally, it will help a new, or nervous, nominations committee member understand why they are approaching a potential nominee by writing out a script in advance. The script should have two parts: an introduction that references the reason for approaching the nominee, and a follow-up. The script should be adaptable for use with in-person conversations, or email.

Nominees are more receptive to join a non-profit board when they understand why they are being asked. People want to know they matter.

Here is an example.


“Hi Jane,

I’m John, on the board of the XYZ Group. I’m glad to have a minute to meet you. We are looking for volunteers to join our board of directors. Lori, our membership coordinator, mentioned you’ve been very active at our events over the last year. With your connection to our youth clients, we thought you might be a great fit to join the board. Would you have time to chat for a few minutes?”


“Hi Jane,

It was great to talk with you about joining our board of directors. Your background in youth after-school programming is a great match for the strategic goals of the XYZ Group. I think you would be a great fit to join our board.

I left you with a few documents yesterday but wanted to pass along the link to a few more details and the application form.

I’ll give you a call in a couple days, but if you have any question before then, I’d be happy to talk sooner.”


Empowering a nominations committee member to know what to say, what information to provide initially, and what information to provide on follow-up, will set them up for a positive experience. While there is never a perfect way to encourage someone to say yes, every time, having a short script, and a handful of resource information will build get the ball rolling.

If a non-profit doesn’t know who to ask to join their board, they can ask people for suggestions and introductions. Board recruitment works best when it is a flexible process.

The game plan to get started with board recruitment is to remove the uncertainty.

Begin by creating a toolkit of information that helps a potential nominee understand more about the organization, while at the same time helping nominations committee members understand what to say. Finish by writing out a script that a nominations committee member can use as they build experience.

When a non-profit board wants to empower their nominations committee to confidently seek out board nominees, a toolkit and a script make the job less intimidating and, maybe, even a little fun.

Thanks for taking the time to read my ideas. My mission is to take the mystery out of running a small non-profit. If you know someone who needs to read this, why not grab the link, and share it with them. Let’s work together to make board recruitment as easy as possible.



Hi, I'm Christie Saas, former board member, current Executive Director, and non-profit volunteer. I remember well, those early years when I lacked the training, the confidence, and the work-life balance to focus on becoming the best non-profit leader I could be.

Fast-forward past many bumps in the road, lessons learned, and you’ll find me still in the trenches, but a little wiser, a little calmer, and a whole lot happier. I love my work and I want to help you love yours too.

I created to give you tools, tips, and templates to remove the mystery of learning to run a small non-profit. If you’re a brand-new non-profit leader, or a little more seasoned, someone who’s looking to make a meaningful contribution and still have time for a full life away from the job, you’re in the right place.

© Christie Saas 2022 All Rights Reserved

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