Selecting Board Members

For the past two years, I’ve had the honor to sit on the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP) Committee on Directorship (COD). This is the committee that is tasked with reviewing the applications from individuals who are called to serve on the Board. I’ve got to be honest, sitting on this governing board isn’t an easy task, and each member of the COD were committed to selecting a slate that was representative of our membership (geographic location, sector, gender, race, and even their position title).

Prior to the two day meeting, each one of us had to review close to 300 pages of materials. Each one of us had our own system of evaluating members, and I was impressed at how we worked deliberately and carefully in selecting a well-qualified and representative 2019 slate of board members for AFP. The process energized me because I have RARELY experienced not-for-profit organizations (NPOs) using such a deliberate process, and because of this, the governing body isn’t as effective as they could be.

Below, I quickly outline all of the ways that I believe AFP is doing it right in regards to the selection of their board.

  1. Instead of having a nominating committee that is completely board driven, there is a committee that is representative of their membership. For AFP, this is based on geographic region. Each one of us was nominated by members from our “district.” Many of us, do not know the other members of the committee nor do we know many of the candidates. This means, we are truly evaluating each candidate on the strength of their application, which includes the application form, their resume, their involvement with AFP, both at a local and national level, recommendation letters, and from input from AFP staff.
  2. The only board members sitting on the COD is the immediate past chair (who chairs the committee), the current board chair, and the chair-elect. Since it is only 3 board members when we have about 12 members sitting on the COD, one can be quite confident that these individuals do not have much sway in getting their friends on the board.
  3. AFP provided us with a spreadsheet that outlined each of the candidates qualities and experience:
    1. Gender
    2. Race
    3. Age
    4. Geographic location
    5. Number of years in the profession
    6. Number of years as an AFP member
    7. NPO sector (healthcare, religious, education, arts & culture, environmental, social service, etc)
    8. Current tile
    9. Giving to AFP
  4. AFP provided us with the job description for the individual board member and for the entire board. This gave us a framework of what the qualifications and slots needed to be filled and we worked hard to make sure we put forth a slate of officers that would have a diversity of thought that would then better position the growth of AFP.

Every single individual we placed on the 2019 slate demonstrated a commitment to the organization, to the mission, and to the profession. I know that this slate was going to work together to make sure that our mission was being fulfilled and that AFP would thrive well into the future. The individuals selected were not placed because we had high hopes of them being a future donor (they already were donors), or that we wanted to add clout to the organization. We selected individuals who were 100 percent invested in the organization and that is what board service entails.

My question to you: What does your board selection process look like? Can you improve the process?  


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