what nonprofit board members want from new members

What do Nonprofit Boards Want from Members?

Nonprofit boards want basically the same thing as every leadership team wants—capable, talented, inspiring people. But successful fundraising for nonprofits and charities is no small feat.

The truth is that management isn’t the driving force behind change. It takes a community to shape the outcome of any movement. However, board members are key players that help nonprofits decide where they need to go and how to get there.

Maybe you plan to be on the board of a nonprofit one day or you are an experienced professional looking to lend your talents to a nonprofit group. Maybe you already work with nonprofits and are curious about what board members really want from recruits.

Below are 7 admirable qualities that nonprofit boards want from potential board members.

Passionate and Willing to Make a Difference

Board members across the board are looking for candidates who are in it for the cause. Finding someone who has the willingness and passion to make a difference is #1 on the list. If you’ve got the “Joy, Joy, Joy, Joy down in your heart!” (It will shine through from the start).

Additionally, the most eligible candidates are willing to do the hard work to make things happen. Bulwer Lytton once said, “The best are not only the happiest, but the happiest are usually the best.” It’s not all about being lovey-dovey and outgoing though. It takes a balanced board to bring ideas to life.

Some of the best candidates are sober-minded, pragmatic souls who look at things from every angle. They help keep the train on the tracks. These personality traits are often seen in doctors, mental health workers, civil rights lawyers, and others who directly serve people.

Like-Minded People Who Click From the Start

Chemistry goes hand and hand with related business skills and strong leadership. Tight-knit, connected teams are often more powerful and creative. Nonprofit board members are looking for like-minded, professional people who work well with the team.

Like almost every healthy relationship, you shouldn’t have to force it at the start. Boards aren’t necessarily looking for new best friends or love at first sight, they want teammates they can trust who are there for the right reasons – to help the organization achieve and exceed its goals.

Knowledge of Existing and Emerging Markets

Nonprofit boards want people who understand the tools and technology of today. We are witnessing one of the most exciting times in history! It’s easy to take for granted but technology takes care of menial tasks so we can be more productive and focus on creativity.

Traditional styles of fundraising for nonprofits and charities still work but not like they used to. Not every organization can rely on classic tactics that groups like the Girl Scouts and Salvation Army do so well.

There isn’t exactly a school to learn the new school of promotion and public relations, it takes experiential knowledge. The ability to harness the power of social networks and make use of the latest tools gives you a big advantage.

A Unique Perspective

A fresh perspective can breathe new life into any team. Nonprofit boards look for someone who brings something unique to the table. The most successful causes enlist people from diverse backgrounds with a variety of personal experiences.

A professional who intimately understands the requirements of the position and brings something new to the table is a prime candidate. The ideal choice is someone with proven skills who’s willing to leverage their network to make a bigger impact.

If you’re experienced in fundraising for nonprofits or administration that’s a big plus. It’s no secret that groups working for the same cause see other organizations as rivals but it’s rarer than in the for-profit sector.

Nonprofits like Habitat for Humanity and Heritage Foundation are known to embrace cooperation rather than competition. They often pay lip service to their counterparts to make more widespread progress.

Dedicated to Public Service

At the end of the day, nonprofit boards want someone who understands that it’s all about serving humanity. Including supporters, donors, volunteers who work at fundraising events, and the community at large. One of the most inspiring examples of this “leaders eat last” philosophy is from a private company.

Dan Price, CEO of Gravity Payments took a massive pay cut in order to raise his employees’ minimum wage to $70,000. Six years later, he reported, “The staff had 10 times more babies, 70% of the employees paid their debts and the employees bought 10 times more houses.” Despite objections of critics and stakeholders who bailed out, revenue tripled.

Willingness to Freely Voice an Opinion

“Soft skills” like organization and effective communication are important. We all have blind spots and sometimes we need the ones who have our backs to point them out. Nonprofit boards don’t want to debate every issue but good ideas are often left unspoken at important meetings.

People who hold their ground when they feel strongly about an issue are some of the best teammates. Strong communication skills and the ability to give constructive criticism are excellent qualities for any teammate. If you are passionate and respectful about a disagreement or an idea that hasn’t been brought up, the entire group will benefit.

The Flexibility to Adapt

Far too many nonprofit groups are innovative but not as effective as they’d like to be. Others are too bogged down with bureaucracy to be creative. Highly effective nonprofits adapt their plans over time.

Flexibility helps fundraising efforts for nonprofits because things always change. It’s wonderful when things fall into place but it doesn’t always work out that way. Many nonprofits haven’t mastered the ability to modify their approach to create sustainable support. And If you are undefeated you may be ready to take on some new challenges.

It’s nice to win but a loss can lead to more opportunities than a flawless victory. Optimism and the ability to learn from mistakes are a winning combo. Future opportunities are always up for grabs and a resilient candidate should have a history of bouncing back stronger after setbacks. A single fundraising event can have a huge impact with the right adjustments.

What Do You Want Out of a Nonprofit Board?

You most likely already asked yourself this question before you decided to apply. But just as a reminder, you might want to consider a few things.

If you work in the nonprofit sector, there’s a pretty good chance that you are a selfless person, always willing to put the needs of others before your own. Even if you hit all the right notes and are passionate about the cause, you should make sure it’s right for you.

  • Do I want to make a significant contribution to the organization? Would I donate?
  • Can I learn something from the other board members?
  • Can I really make a difference here?
  • Do I admire the people on the board?
  • Are my peers going to listen to my ideas and treat me with respect?

We Help Make Fundraising for Nonprofits a Piece of Cake

Thank you for sticking with us till the end. The good work of social movements mobilizes action to solve important problems. There is so much to do before an event and online ticket sales should be a breeze. If you or someone you know works with nonprofits and needs to sell tickets to a fundraising event, don’t be shy, we’d love to talk!