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Attracting the right directors to your Non Profit

Updated: Apr 3


So how do we build an effective board that can govern through these times?


The first question is how can you attract diverse board members for increased innovation and growth.


What are some of the challenges non profits are facing in this area?


Challenge 1, The talent Pool; as I have mentioned on numerous occasions, there are more than 600,000 non profit organisations in Australia and more coming. There is also an ever increasing social sector, so staking a claim as a worthy cause to join at the board level can be challenging.


Challenge 2, Projects are getting more exciting; as tech, innovation and start ups continue to influence the for purpose space. Having strategic plans and projects that pique interest and excite are becoming more imperative.


Challenge 3, Governance and fiduciary requirements are growing exponentially; being a director is becoming less of a spare time activity and more about being a professional part time job (that is often unpaid, could land you in jail and challenging to stay on top of)


Challenge 4, Corporate giving and social responsibility is growing. More and more employees now have the opportunity to give and participate at the office in a connected and meaningful way. These activities can be highly rewarding, company supported and often fun; this means they can give in their work time, feel good about themselves and still make it home for dinner with the family.


This can be in stark contrast to board work that is often scheduled and completed out of work hours.


Another challenge can come from within. You might be inadvertently putting off potential board members with your current behaviour, structure or methods. These can include issues like lack of turnover, process, vision and often conflict. If you recognise some of these you may need to think about how you can make changes, or alternatively come and see me during today.


To fight these challenges, organisations need to build a compelling case for talented and committed people to join their boards.


One of the biggest stumbling blocks at the beginning is knowing what your RIGHT board looks like.


Some of the traps and misconceptions for boards I see is understanding the difference between building a consulting team or developing a governance team. I always advise boards to shy away from the Noah's ark thinking of board makeup. We need an accountant, lawyer, marketer, celebrity, baker and candlestick maker etc.


Instead if you take a top down view of what your broader network there are far more resources and opportunities at your disposal to assist your cause than you might think.

If you say we find it hard to attract support, then I tell you there are organisations out there that are engaging widely in the community and leveraging all types of relationships that also flow back to the governance team.


The idea that the board has to be the fountain of all knowledge is outdated.


The first discussion should not be “who should be on the board, it is who do we need in the broader context to … build the cause…get awareness…find partners…find funding etc


To fight these challenges, organisations need to build a compelling case for talented and committed people to join their boards.

One of the biggest stumbling blocks at the beginning is knowing what your RIGHT board looks like.

Some of the traps and misconceptions for boards I see is understanding the difference between building a consulting team or developing a governance team. I always advise boards to shy away from the Noahs ark thinking of board makeup. We need an accountant, lawyer, marketer, celebrity, baker and candlestick maker etc.

Instead if you take a top down view of what your broader network there are far more resources and opportunities at your disposal to assist your cause than you might think.

If you say we find it hard to attract support, then I tell you there are organisations out there that are engaging widely in the community and leveraging all types of relationships that also flow back to the governance team.

The idea that the board has to be the fountain of all knowledge is outdated.

The first discussion should not be “who should be on the board, it is who do we need in the broader context to … build the cause…get awareness…find partners…find funding etc

Once that has been established, the next question then is about the board, who do we need on the board to make this happen?

In my experience this is a different question. So how can you make your board more attractive?

One word… CLARITY...Having clarity around Purpose …Having clarity around Process…and Having clarity around People.

If we look at Clarity of Purpose some key things should be in place such as...

  1. Having a clear vision for the board developed and promoted by the Chair

  2. Having the ability to articulate best practice for your sector or industry

  3. Your board needs to be Knowledgeable, Passionate and respectful board, and

  4. Being clear on what can you offer potential board members in return?


Clarity around Process

  1. Understanding and articulating your theory of change, program logic or any other methodology, on how your programs create impact, get results, or achieve their outcomes

  2. Being open to new ideas and truly embracing new thinking

  3. Implementation of a robust training and induction program

  4. Succession planning and well thought out board tenure

  5. A strategy that is lived and breathed and Board recruitment linked that strategy

  6. Board policies, charters, PDs, goals measures and reviews.


Clarity around People

  1. Understanding who is part of your broader networks

  2. Having an Experienced and committed,

  3. Having a clear idea of who is on the board, why they are there; and what skills and connections do they bring,

  4. Being clear on who you want or need on the board and why and what part will they play, and

  5. Having a real understanding of diversity and what diversity could bring to your board. I am not sure how many of you have read Juliet Burke's book called “which two heads are better than one” but the research in it highlights a very different view of what diversity brings to groups.

  • Gender diversity encourages people to speak up.

  • Gender diversity helps to improve the collective intelligence of a group.

  • Feelings of psychological safety are optimal with a ratio of 50:50

  • Self-confidence of members optimal with a ratio of 60:40

  • Racial diversity triggers curiosity and exploration

  • We tend to think about the individuals perspective being the compelling reason for diversity but it’s the dynamic created that often is the biggest benefit.

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robert @ leadingforpurpose . com . au

Amplify Me Pty Ltd trading as

Leading For Purpose