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Last updated April 21, 2020

While there is no magic recipe when it comes to getting the right people on your board, there are a few things you can do to ensure you are on the right track.

Complete a Trustee Interest Register

Maintaining an Interest Register is a simple way to ensure that Trustees act with absolute transparency when making decisions. By regularly declaring any interests they have in businesses/organisations/projects, the Board can be aware of any potential conflict of interest and manage the decision-making process accordingly. (*Tip: If you don’t have a Trustee Conflict of Interest Policy, now would be a great time to write one.)

What constitutes ‘an interest’ will vary from organisation to organisation, but in general terms ‘having an interest’ means you, or your immediate family, could benefit from decisions affecting that entity. If in doubt, it is good practice for Trustees to over declare. It is also important to recognise that just because there is an interest, it doesn’t mean there is a conflict. Having a register simply highlights potential conflict so it can be addressed on a case-by-case basis if required.

Make sure you keep this up to date and immediately include new information as it arises. This includes incoming board members. You must take the time to consider potential conflicts when you are looking to welcome new trustees.

Complete a Trustee Skills Inventory

The most effective boards ensure that trustees have a diverse range of skills that will help provide perspective and well-rounded decision making. The specific skills required on a non-profit board, and at what level, will vary depending on the nature of the organisation. Completing a trustee skills inventory allows you to take a snapshot of who’s who on your board and assess the areas where you are lacking specific skills.

When going through the process of interviewing potential board members, take the time to assess their skills against your skills inventory. What do they bring? How do they fit in with the skillset already present?

Advertise in the Right Places

Advertising in the right places will help attract the right people.
– Websites like ‘Do Good Jobs’ are a great place to start. Do Good Jobs is all about connecting great people, to do good. They connect passionate, talented people (aka do-gooders) with vacancies that aim to create social and environmental change.
– Make the most of your networks. Sometimes it’s (still) all about who you know.

Within this, you need to ensure your advertisement hits the mark.
– Be clear and concise.
– Outline the individual skills, attributes and experience you desire.
– Briefly outline what the role requires and time commitment.
– Include how potential candidates find out more information.

Remember to make it engaging and relevant to the audience you are trying to target.

Conduct an In-Depth Interview

Taking the time to get to know potential candidates is an essential part of getting the right people on your board. Remember to:

– Set the tone right from the beginning. Do you want the process to be relaxed and conversational or structured
and formal?
– Outline the who, what, when and why of your organisation.
– Ask quality, pre-prepared questions relevant to the position available.
– Leave plenty of time for individuals to answer questions.
– Confirm the next steps in the process. What happens next? When will they be notified?

** Remember throughout this entire process to refer to your governing document as a guide **

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