Friday, January 18, 2013

The Connection Chasm

An experienced senior leader with strong credentials (he loves Jesus, MBA, etc.), asked me recently, “How does one get invited to serve on a nonprofit ministry board?”

I know a dozen nonprofits that would crowd in line to snag this mid-40s board prospect.  Yet here was an eager and willing future board member with no immediate connection to a nonprofit ministry—other than a desire to serve. Apparently, he’s not on the radar of any local or national ministry that would likely benefit from his expertise and his heart.

This “Connection Chasm” is unfortunate, but there are solutions.

“What’s your passion?” I asked him.  I encouraged him to become an active supporter, cheerleader and volunteer of a ministry that grabbed both his heart and his spouse’s heart.

I told him that the best boards are looking for people who meet the “6 Ds” criteria:
   • Discerning Decision-Maker
   • Demonstrated Passion
   • Documented Team Player
   • Diligent and Faithful Participant/Volunteer
   • Doer (“walks the talk”)
   • Donor

We talked about the importance of the first five Ds and then the generous giving imperative per Matthew 6:21, “Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (Note that I said “generous,” not wealthy.)

To define “generous giver” I suggested, “Look at your personal annual giving—and note which three ministries/local church are in your Top-3 each year. It’s likely that one of those ministries might provide you with a board service opportunity.”

In the ECFA Governance Toolbox Series No. 1: Recruiting Board Members, the short DVD and view-and-engage guides (one for each board member) discuss four steps: Cultivation, Recruitment, Orientation and Engagement. In the Cultivation section, there are seven self-assessment statements, including:
   • “We have a written ‘pathway to the board’ checklist that we follow which includes significant reference checks and due diligence.”

Disciplined attention to your Pathway to the Board Checklist will help bridge the “Connection Chasm” between your board’s needs and willing and available board prospects.

QUESTION: Does your board have a Pathway to the Board Checklist? How are you communicating board service opportunities to younger board members?

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