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Finding the Right Board Members for Your Nonprofit Organization

Running a nonprofit organization is no small task. It requires dedicated individuals who are not only passionate about the cause but also possess the skills and commitment needed to drive the organization's mission forward. Therefore, one of the crucial elements in nonprofit success is having strong and engaged board members.

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Running a nonprofit organization is no small task. It requires dedicated individuals who are not only passionate about the cause but also possess the skills and commitment needed to drive the organization's mission forward. Therefore, one of the crucial elements in nonprofit success is having strong and engaged board members.

Let’s explore the ways to find the right board members for your nonprofit organization through the Nonprofit Counsel Podcast with the help of host, May Harris, and esteemed guest, Dr. Lyn Corbett. Get ready to discover how to find the right board members for your organization's unique needs and the many ways it would benefit your organization in the long run.

Understanding the Importance of Board Engagement

In this episode, Dr. Corbett emphasizes the significance of having an engaged and committed board of directors for nonprofit success. Rather than viewing board members as mere donors or placeholders, it's crucial to select individuals who align with the organization's mission and are willing to actively contribute their time, expertise, and resources.

The Power of "Why"

One of the critical aspects of building an engaged board is understanding the organization's "why." Dr. Corbett speaks to the importance of exploring the reasons why both individual board members and the organization itself exist. This introspection helps board members align with the mission and purpose, fostering a sense of connection and commitment.

Just as Simon Sinek's "Start with Why" concept suggests, understanding the "why" behind your organization's existence can provide a strong foundation for growth.

From Individual "Why" to Organizational "Why"

While individual motivations are essential, the alignment with the organization's overarching purpose is equally crucial. Dr. Corbett recommends creating an open dialogue about the organization's mission and exploring why it exists. This practice not only strengthens board members' connection with the organization but also provides an opportunity to identify key strengths and contributions each member can bring to the table.

Creating Clear Expectations

When seeking new board members, Dr. Corbett starts with setting clear expectations. Provide potential board members with a comprehensive board recruitment packet that outlines the responsibilities, expectations, and mission of the organization. This upfront transparency ensures that individuals joining the board have a solid understanding of their roles and what is expected of them.

Starting with Committees

Dr. Corbett shared an insightful approach to onboarding new board members. Instead of immediately placing them on the board, start by involving them in committees. This allows them to become familiar with the organization, its operations, and its culture. As they integrate into committees, they have the chance to engage with other board members, learn about the organization's needs, and understand the roles they might undertake as full board members.

Collaboration Over Competition

In the nonprofit sector, collaboration often outshines competition. Dr. Corbett highlights the importance of recognizing your nonprofit's unique strengths, which serve as your competitive advantage. By acknowledging what makes your organization stand out, you can leverage these strengths to collaborate with other organizations effectively.

Collaborative efforts can lead to a more significant impact and stronger support for your cause.

Selecting the Right Nonprofit Consultant

Nonprofit organizations often encounter complex challenges that require specialized expertise to navigate effectively. In such cases, seeking the assistance of external consultants can prove to be a strategic and valuable decision. Dr. Corbett offers valuable insights on the steps to take when selecting a nonprofit consultant:

1. Clarify the Problem

When faced with a problem or challenge that necessitates external expertise, it's essential to articulate the issue with utmost clarity. By providing a comprehensive explanation of the challenge at hand, you ensure that the potential consultant comprehends the exact nature of your organization's needs. This clarity is pivotal in matching the consultant's skill set and knowledge with the specific problem, facilitating the delivery of a tailored and effective solution.

2. Check Experience

In your pursuit of a suitable nonprofit consultant, it's wise to delve into the consultant's professional background. Inquire about their prior experiences dealing with challenges similar to yours or their involvement with organizations comparable in size and nature to your nonprofit. A consultant with a proven track record in addressing analogous issues brings to the table valuable insights, strategies, and best practices that can be directly applied to your situation.

3. Set Expectations

Establishing clear expectations is a fundamental aspect of the consultant selection process. It's imperative to outline the consultant's anticipated role, responsibilities, and the desired outcomes of their engagement. Clear communication at this stage helps prevent misunderstandings and aligns both parties' understanding of the project scope, ensuring that the consultant's efforts are aligned with your nonprofit's objectives.

4. Define End Goals

As you engage with potential consultants, discussing the envisioned end goals of the collaboration is of paramount importance. Articulate what success should look like at the conclusion of the consultant's involvement. This discussion aids in establishing a shared understanding of the desired outcomes, enabling the consultant to tailor their strategies and efforts towards achieving the specific objectives outlined by your nonprofit organization.


Building an engaged and effective board for your nonprofit organization requires a thoughtful and intentional approach. Dr. Lynn Corbett's insights emphasize the significance of aligning personal motivations with the organization's purpose, fostering collaboration, and selecting consultants with expertise that aligns with your organization's needs. By following these principles, your nonprofit can build a board that is not only committed to the mission but also equipped to drive positive change.

Subscribe to Nonprofit Counsel Podcast today if you want to learn how to make your nonprofit organization better and recruit people with the right skills to create a big difference. Follow Nonprofit Counsel on LinkedIn and Instagram for more updates.