Whether you've just formed a nonprofit or incorporated your business, you're required by law to have a board of directors as your governing body. A board's structure and personality varies widely: Do you want a hands-on working board, or big names that lend credibility to fundraising? Hold casual or by-the-book meetings? The task is to recruit a board that works well with your organization's style and mission.
Specify the board's rules of operation in the corporate bylaws. This document details items such as the number of board members, length of terms, officer positions and meeting conduct.
Determine the desired skill set before you begin recruiting. If your corporation lacks financial savvy, recruit an accountant. Plagued by personnel problems? A human resources specialist would make a good addition. Gather a well-rounded board that works effectively toward your organization's goals. See 374 Sharpen the Focus of an Organization.
Invite board candidates to the next meeting and see if there is a good fit in person as well as on paper. This also enables candidates to ask questions of the board and confirm their commitment.
Ensure that the board stays on track by clarifying its responsibilities. These generally include defining the organization's mission, selecting and evaluating an executive officer, raising funds, and enhancing the organization's public image. Boards are typically required to record minutes of meetings and keep them on file.
Establish committees when issues become too complex or numerous for the entire board to handle effectively. Divide-andconquer strategies can make better use of members' time and expertise. Have at least two members--this can include staff and volunteers--on each committee.
In some states, you must have bylaws to file for incorporation. For-profit corporation board members are typically paid, while nonprofit members are usually volunteers. Find comprehensive nonprofit management information and sample forms at the Management Assistance Program's site (www.managementhelp.org). Maintain a list of potential board candidates that includes the skills and time commitment they can bring to the organization. Develop an application template for prospective board members. It should solicit information on the applicant's career history and relevant experience, why he or she wants to join the board, what skills, resources and contacts he or she brings, and any questions he or she has.