Board Member Recruitment
By: Michele Colopy
It is that time of year again when new Board members are recruited for the beekeeping association. The bee club has beginning beekeeping classes to present, beeyard maintenance, field days in the beeyard to prepare for members, monthly meetings, speakers, and outreach to other bee clubs, fellow stakeholders, school children, and advocacy to local legislators and policy makers. The bee club needs leaders who can tackle all of the goals of the Club. Leaders do not simply appear. Sadly, some who fancy themselves leaders, in reality often are not. They may be best suited to specific committee tasks, but leading the club, motivating other members, and attending to the broad work of being a Board member they cannot do. The current Board needs to work to recruit Board members who will help the club meet its goals and serve its members. In “Building and Managing a Better Board,” The Enterprise Foundation advises Boards to “identify the types of people and sets of skills it needs.” Board members must be “filled with commitment and passion,” and “meet an organizational need.”
Board members, current and prospective, must “understand and be committed to the organization’s mission.” Board members want to be motivated, and appreciated, for spending their time and resources to make the beekeeping association the best it can be. However, Board members need to be needed. Boards must examine the needs of their association, and seek Board members who can fulfill those needs. “Some of the skills, knowledge or experience that prove useful include:
- Knowing the needs of those the organization serves
- Having technical skills such as finance, accounting, insurance, contracting, or event planning
- Having wealth or connections to wealth (political connections).” (This includes a wealth of time to devote to the club as well.)
“The job of building a board that meets the organization’s needs is one that truly never ends. New seats open every year, especially if there is a term-limit clause in the bylaws. So, finding and recruiting new board members is vital, continuing work.”
The Enterprise Foundation offers a three step plan to recruit board members.
Step 1 – Decide on Needs. The Board must determine the needs of the beekeeping association, what skills, knowledge, and experience are needed to replace departing Board members, and meet the needs of the club.
Step 2 – Find people! Look to your membership. As bee clubs are membership associations, this is the breeding ground for the next Board members. A strong bee club welcomes all of its members, and all of its members will have a belief that they too could be a Board member or committee person one day. In recruiting new Board members to run for the Board look for those members who will satisfy the needs of the bee club. It may behoove the bee club to require Board members serve on a committee first before running for a Board position. Working on a committee is a practice run of sorts for the member as well as the Board. Working on a committee is a great way to determine how someone works in a group, how they assist others, are they open to new ideas, are they welcoming of new ideas, do they show good judgment? In this process the Board or nominating committee can begin to formulate a list of prospective candidates. However, never underestimate the self-nominating club member as they could be just what the club needs.
Step 3 – Make the Plan! As candidates for open Board positions are determined, the personal contact by the nominating committee is key to ensuring the needs of the beekeeping association will be met by the skills and experience of the prospective candidate. The nominating committee should interview each candidate and compile a list of skills, ideas, passion, and commitment the candidate will provide. The membership also will want to know how a prospective Board member will work with the current Board, and serve the membership and mission of the beekeeping association. In bee clubs larger than 100 people, not everyone knows each other. Prospective candidates should have the opportunity to introduce themselves to the membership, and share with the membership why they want to serve on the Board, the skills they bring to the Board, their beekeeping experience, and the vision they have for the bee club. So, the nominating committee needs to plan the recruitment and nominating process two-three months ahead of Board elections.
The Enterprise Foundation offers a Board Recruitment Planning Form, for those who like the simplicity of forms. The planning form has three parts: determine your prospective Board members, why they would be good for the Board, and their contact with the Board. The second part of the plan defines who on the current Board or nominating committee will contact the prospective Board member, and the approach taken to encourage them to run for the Board. The third part of the recruitment plan is to schedule time for the prospect to introduce themselves to the Board and membership as a nominee for the Board.
The Nominating Committee for any organization should be defined in the By Laws. The Nominating Committee must have an understanding of the skill sets of current Board members; and be aware of the “mix and characteristics of the board and identify the need” of new Board members. The Nominating committee should “identify, recruit and prepare the slate of prospective board members and officers; monitor board performance; train and orient board members; and maintain the board manual in consultation with the secretary.”
The Nominating Committee advises and makes recommendations to the Board and membership, but the membership votes for its Directors and Officers. Voting for the Board should be by written, and anonymous ballots. It is fair and balanced to hold a written ballot vote, in order to dispel the formation, and appearance of cliques, and dictatorships in organizations. Each beekeeping association will have to examine the concept of absentee ballots or email ballots. If you have too many people voting via an absentee ballot, what else is occurring in the club that keeps so many people absent? Members have a responsibility to their club as much as the Board. Members need to know who is running for the Board, why they are running, how they will contribute to the health and stability of the beekeeping association, and vote!
The members of the beekeeping association are the owners of the club. They elect the Board to run the club, administer the programs, welcome new members, and fulfill the mission of the beekeeping association. Get to know your members, get to know your Board, and consider sharing your talents with the club as a Board member or committee member.
The Enterprise Foundation, “Building and Managing a Better Board,” 1999.
Michele Colopy is the Program Director for the Pollinator Stewardship Council. She holds a Master’s degree in Arts Administration/Nonprofit Management from The University of Akron, and has created, revitalized and held leadership roles in nonprofit organizations for 20 years.