Why Nonprofit Board Prospects Say Yes

Sun, May 26, 2013 at 1:40PM

Hardy Smith, Nonprofit Consultant & Speaker

When you are recruiting board members, what gets your prospects to yes? Nonprofit board members participating in my survey Why Don’t Board Members Do What They’re Supposed to Do? shared their thinking on why they agree to accept an invitation to join a nonprofit board.

Survey responses identified several major considerations that influence a prospect’s decision before a commitment to yes is made.Contrary to what many may believe, survey results show that just having a good cause is not a persuasive enough selling point for board recruitment.

The strongest factor that encourages a favorable response is a meaningful connection with the cause or organization that is both personal and professional. Prospects want to evaluate whether or not they are a good fit before obligating themselves.

Respondents also say they want to know they will have an ability to make an impact and not simply be a name on a letterhead.

As perhaps expected, time availability is a priority consideration. However, my experience with volunteer recruitment tells me the real answer regarding time is whether or not someone is willing to commit his or her time to your particular organization.

Other very significant concerns that affect yes decisions include personal opinion of current board members, the board’s reputation, perception of how well organized the organization is, financial soundness of the organization, and opinion of the organization’s staff. 

Finally, who’s doing the asking has a major influence. A positive response is much more likely when the ask comes from someone the prospect has a personal relationship with.

When identifying potential additions to your board, give careful thought to the perspectives offered in my survey by those who have already said yes.

Paying attention to these insights will improve your recruitment efforts and will also help you find prospects who are much more likely to make a positive contribution to your board.

My survey also asked board members why they would say no to a board invitation.  I’ll share those thoughts with you in my next newsletter.


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