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How to Find Your Next Stellar Nonprofit Board Member on LinkedIn

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Published April 10, 2014 Reading Time: 3 minutes

Recruitment has been a challenge for nonprofit boards time and time again. Identifying the right people to invest in your mission, are committed to the responsibilities of the role, and who have the leadership qualities to drive your organization’s success is no small task.

Defining a board of directors is easy – a group of individuals who are collectively responsible for helping an organization achieve its mission. However, the complexity of recruiting the right, not just suitable, candidates is a big challenge.

Question: With limited resources and time how do I find a great board member candidate versus an adequate one?

Answer: LinkedIn.

LinkedIn is an easy to use free tool that gives users immediate access to a network of professional peers. Around 78 percent of respondents in a LinkedIn survey said they were interested in sitting on a nonprofit board. So, that’s a lot of eager candidates who could serve as your next great board member.

Finding your next board member with LinkedIn

Make a checklist of required attributes and skills

First of all, start by evaluating any stellar members that have previously served on your board.

  • What made them an effective leader?
  • How experienced are they, in nonprofits or in other areas?
  • What were their social interests?
  • Did they drive any big projects throughout their career?
  • What were they most passionate about?

A LinkedIn profile can tell you more than the standard resume. The summary is a great place to learn more about who someone is, both professionally and personally. Often, people will describe what motivates them, what they are passionate about, and what they are eager to accomplish. Consequently, these insights are a great starting point of comparison to your list of idea board member attributes.

A LinkedIn profile allows you to see what a candidate is interested in, what groups they participate in, what nonprofits they have worked with, and peer recommendations they have received.

Leverage your donors’ networks to filter candidates

Identifying the right people to join your board is all about networking. One of the easiest places to start expanding your network is right in front of you: tap into your donors’ networks.

From a donor’s profile page, scroll down to view and search through their connections. In the top right-hand corner of the connections box, click the magnifying glass to input the qualities from your “ideal attributes” checklist.

LinkedIn will use these qualities to generate a filtered list of profiles. After this initial search, you can take it one step further by performing an advanced search and filter by location, company, industry, and relationship.

During the process of recruiting new board members, it may be a good idea to upgrade to a LinkedIn Premium account. Paying for a premium account allows for more in depth filtering. The additional search features that premium accounts offer include:

  • Years of experience
  • Job function
  • Shared groups
  • Opportunities interested in
  • Seniority level
  • Company size
  • Fortune 1000
  • Recently joined

After filtering through and identifying potential board candidates, start reaching out and connecting to these people.

Take advantage of the tools LinkedIn offers

When you’re getting serious about using LinkedIn to find your next board members, take advantage of LinkedIn’s Board Member Connect. Board Member Connect is a nonprofit board recruitment program that provides access to training, premium tools, and a peer learning community.

Here’s an outline of the LinkedIn Board Member Connect features:

  • Powerful search tactics with Premium access: increases your search functionality and allows you to reach out to your board and donor’s extended network through the use of Talent Finder, a premium LinkedIn tool used exclusively for board member recruitment ($1,000 value)

This will also allow you to perform the advance searches discussed above.

  • Exclusive educational webcasts: access to training sessions by board recruitment experts and interactive product tutorials by LinkedIn team members.
  • Access to the Board Member Connect Group: a supportive peer community where members share best practices and learn from the experience of other nonprofit leaders.

Additional Resources

BoardAssist: A New York-based nonprofit that provides personalized board recruiting for the tri-state nonprofit community. As a result, their blog has great resources for organizations, nationwide.

BoardSource: A nonprofit organization with a mission to build nonprofit boards. It has a partnership with LinkedIn and BoardSource, so members are given the opportunity to post their board openings free of charge on LinkedIn. Typically, with a standard Board Member Connect account, it costs up to $50 dollars to post board opportunities on LinkedIn.

LinkedIn for Nonprofits: The hub of everything nonprofit-related on LinkedIn. Here you will also find resources and guides that can help you determine whether Board Member Connect is an investment that would benefit your nonprofit.

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