Written By: Mike
By Mike Bussey
April is National Volunteer Month. Over the next few weeks the Donor By Design Team will be reflecting on the impact volunteers have on our communities and our world. Today Mike explains the power of a gutsy nominating committee.
One of the great privileges of leading a non-profit organization is to work with highly effective volunteer boards. Throughout my career, I’ve seen great things happened because of a board’s passion for and support of campaigns that have assured a full and vibrant expression of the organization’s mission.
Conversely, I’ve also seen situations where volunteer boards haven’t been able to provide the leadership that’s required for an organization to thrive, especially when major fundraising initiatives are on the agenda. Even when staff and volunteer leaders are fully committed to developing a stronger board, it often doesn’t happen easily.
Although there is no shortage of board development advice out there, I’ve found that there is one foundational action step that can be taken to assure that board will grow stronger and eventually become a board that has the capacity to lead the organization to its greatest aspirations.
That one foundational action step? Establish and empower a “gutsy” nominating committee.
If you’ve ever participated in one of our leadership trainings, you may have heard us talk about some key ideas in board development including:
- Boards don’t heal themselves
- People tend to recruit like-minded board members at or below their own socio-economic levels (otherwise known as the Law of Lateral Recruitment)
- The four characteristics of strong boards
If these things are true, then the courage and vision of your nominating committee is critical to the long term evolution of your board.
John Kessler, past President of the Metropolitan Minneapolis YMCA, led the way in defining the importance an organization’s nominating committee. John added the word ‘gutsy’ to his board development presentations to reinforce the fact that nominating committees need to make some tough decisions as they identify and recruit new board members, and as they transition some current board members off the board.
A primary feature of a gutsy nominating committee is that it includes prominent community leaders who are not currently serving on the organization’s board. These community leaders are empowered to assess the leadership needs of the organization and to be fully engaged in recruiting the best available leaders to serve on the board.
The nominating committee can be a great way for past campaign chairs to stay connected without having to sit on your board. It’s also a great role for extremely busy – and connected – community volunteers. They can use their influence on your behalf in a way that also fits their busy lives.
Establishing and empowering a ‘gutsy’ nominating committee will eventually lead to a board that is able to define a grander vision for the future, as well as provide the leadership and philanthropic resources necessary to transition that vision into reality.
Donor By Design is always ready to talk about board development and we’d love to visit with you about establishing a ‘gutsy’ nominating committee for your organization. Tell us a story about a gutsy nominating committee you’ve encountered in the comments below.