Association board-recruitment process

Having an organized board-recruitment process in place not only makes it possible to fill vacancies on a board in an effective and speedy manner, but it creates a foundation for building a skillful and diverse board. This is according to BoardSource, a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit organization, which specializes on board service and governance, strategy and planning, whose article below I am sharing with you.

Board profile

To achieve the best results, define your goals first. Start by analyzing the present composition of your board. A board profile can help you determine the specific skills and qualities that would benefit your board. Do you need to find more people who are particularly well connected with your constituents? Is your board diverse enough to enable you to benefit from different points of view? Do you need extra fundraising capacity? These are some of the questions you may ask yourselves.

Governance committee

Your search for board members should be ongoing.  The governance committee is essential for board-member recruitment as it focuses on the search process on a regular basis. One of the committee’s tasks is to find the best candidates, convince them of the benefits of board service, present the candidates to the full board, and after the final nomination, make sure the new board members are well equipped to do the best possible job.

Search strategies

A continually changing and growing pool of candidates adds to the success of a governance committee. Committee members constantly need to observe their environment and community to locate suitable prospects.

Committee members need to enhance the profile of the association and make its mission known. They need to portray the board member’s role objectively and accurately, as well as present any challenges in positive terms. In other words, mere willingness to join is not enough; explicit commitment to serve is a must.

The CEO’s role in the board -recruitment process

The CEO executive director, secretary-general, etc.), having the most intimate knowledge of the association, can provide valuable assistance to the governance committee by helping assess the organization’s and the board’s current leadership needs, identifying valuable prospects and helping to inform and integrate new board members into their new roles.

Cultivation process

Molding prospects into willing, eager and capable new board members can be time consuming. Decide first who is going to make the initial contact. If a board member knows the prospect, he or she might invite the prospect to a meeting to discuss board service. But it is important to be sensitive to the reaction of the prospect. If he or she clearly indicates that this is not the right time for him or her to take on additional responsibilities, you should acknowledge it.

Extending the invitation to join the board

If the cultivation process has been successful and the prospect clearly indicates his or her willingness to being considered as an official candidate (after understanding what the commitment means), the governance committee presents him or her to the full board for a vote. After the board has approved membership, the chairman  or another suitable board member will extend an official invitation to the newly chosen member.


All newly elected board members need a thorough orientation, no matter how extensive their previous board experience is. Every board has its special characteristics, personal dynamics, requirements for involvement and a structure that needs clarification.

The governance committee with the chief executive’s involvement is normally in the best position to organize orientation for new board members, taking care to invite as many current members as possible.


The column contributor, Octavio  Peralta, is concurrently the secretary-general of the Association of Development Financing Institutions in Asia and the Pacific (Adfiap) and CEO of the Philippine Council of Associations and Association Executives (PCAAE). PCAAE enjoys the support of Adfiap, the Tourism Promotions Board and the Philippine International
Convention Center.

E-mail [email protected].

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