Top Characteristics of a Good Board Member to Look For

The Most Important Characteristic of a Good Board Member: Passion

The characteristics of a good board member are what can make or break your selection. The difficulties and challenges of recruiting new board members is no secret in the nonprofit industry. For many of us, it ranks only behind fundraising as the biggest issue our organizations face on a day-to-day basis.

We’re also under pressure to ensure we have a well-rounded board with a variety of skill sets, expertise, diversity, and experience represented. We work hard to ensure the qualities of a good nonprofit board member are well-rounded. Having too much of one attribute or not enough of another means holes need to be plugged.

Additionally, term limits and the dreaded unforeseen resignations are also factors that organizations must deal with often. The pressure to fill board seats can be overwhelming, yet it’s important to follow the vetting process you have in place and not skip steps.

What makes a good nonprofit board member?

Good quality board members don’t grow on trees, unfortunately, so we’re forced to try several various recruiting methods. The most obvious and common approach is tapping into your current board members for referrals.

Another prevalent practice is to post openings utilizing social media or volunteer-focused websites. Regardless of how you identify or are introduced to these individuals, the first questions you ask candidates should always focus on passion. Passion is what makes a good nonprofit board member.

Questions that focus on passion include:

  • What about our mission resonates with you?
  • What about our organization piqued your interest that you want to explore being a board member?
  • What personal connection do you have with our mission?

If these questions can’t be answered with genuine excitement and unmistakable enthusiasm, then you should really think long and hard about their candidacy and what you believe to be the characteristics of a good board member.

The passionate characteristics of a good board member pay dividends

Board members who are passionate about what you do will work that much harder to ensure success. They will be emotionally invested and go above and beyond what is expected. That’s why passion is the top quality of a good nonprofit board member.

People who don’t have that same level of dedication but who were added simply because they check a box, have an impressive title, or come from a well-known company will eventually create more issues down the road.

While board candidates do need to check all the boxes, the most important is passion. If they don’t have this number one characteristic of a good board member, keep going. There are plenty of fish in the sea.