We all know how important it is to have a nonprofit board of directors full of people who have our backs — and that includes helping with fundraising.

Too often, though, we make do with boards that feel more like a weight around our necks (or a bunch of rubber stamps) than partners in our mission.

Fortunately, there’s an answer to this problem.

Right now, while we’re all catching our breath between Spring event season and the year-end fundraising push, I want you to ask yourself this important question:

Does our nonprofit have a strategic, consistent plan for recruiting the board members we want and need? Or do we wait until a few months before the yearly retreat and rush to get bodies with pulses in the door?

With this question in mind, here are some tips you can start putting in place right now to create a strong, motivated board filled with people who will give and get like mad:

6 Steps You Can Begin Today to Recruit a Nonprofit Board

1. Realize that board recruitment is a year-round process.

If your nonprofit doesn’t have a board development committee, hold a meeting with the most motivated members you have right now to create one. Then, assist this group in meeting every month to identify prospective board members and develop recruitment plans for each person.

2. Be selective!

Before you start making lists of people to recruit, agree on your standards for board membership and any skill sets you particularly need. My free ebook will help you create these standards, but for now keep in mind that you’re looking for individuals who are willing and able to do the work you need done — including helping with fundraising.

3. Start close to home.

Chances are you already have at least a few candidates who would love to serve. Who are these people? Your major donors!

Think about it – these are folks who have already made significant gifts. But that’s not all. Because they’ve also demonstrated that they’ll make time to meet with you to learn more about your mission and accomplishments!

4. Look further afield — but just a bit.

Help your board development committee do a bit of research to find out who in your community has made large gifts to similar organizations.

For example, “Charlene Smith” may have given $1 million to a national organization that works with children. There’s a good chance that Charlene cares just as much about the little ones right here at home.

5. Get out there and talk to people.

More important, get out there and listen to people — and encourage your board members to do the same.

You may have a friend/coworker/second cousin who is always griping that, for example, not enough is being done to help homeless people. It may well be time to see if that person wants to put their money (figuratively and literally) where their mouth is!

6. Seek out volunteers.

Don’t have room on your board right now? Ask your prospects to serve on a committee or volunteer in some other way.

Charlene might be willing to hold a tea party to share your work with her inner circle of “ladies who lunch.” These volunteer opportunities will really help your prospects learn more about your organization. They’ll also help you learn more about your prospects while, at the same time, increasing the amount of things you can accomplish.


Yes, this process takes time. But believe me, it’s worth it.

Dedicate yourself now to doing what’s necessary, consistently and throughout the year, to recruit a dedicated, fundraising-ready board. You’ll save yourself time, headaches, and stress for a long while to come.

What struggles have you had with your board? Let me know in the comments.