Choosing a Nonprofit Board: The Elevator Speech

Last November, I listed 5 factors that board candidates consider in choosing a nonprofit board. In having trained and placed hundreds of business executives and professionals on nonprofit boards, and also having trained and mentored colleagues and protégés to place business people on boards, I have stressed the vital role of board members being unrelenting advocates for their organizations, generous donors, and enthusiastic fundraisers.

As a result, I have observed candidates use a thoughtful criterion in making their ultimate board choice: creating the elevator speech in their heads and practicing it among their family and friends. If they can’t sell the organization, they don’t want it.

In ushering board candidates through the process, I like to help expand their awareness of the realm of possibilities of nonprofits, and then help the candidate narrow down options based on a better understanding of the organizations and their boards. Candidates are primarily interested in knowing what value they bring to the table to help advance the organization.

But when it comes down to making the final choice, candidates not only decide if this is where they want to commit their own time, expertise, and money, but whether they can effectively promote the organization in their daily lives among their friends and business colleagues in order to build additional support.

Off to a great start I’d say.