Many people involved in board-matching advise nonprofit board candidates to find the organization that “you are passionate about,” and then that’s the board for you!
And many people hang around on boards for twenty years or more, because, after all, they are passionate about the organization.
Choosing the right nonprofit board
In my experience in working with board candidates from businesses, I’ve found that most people have a variety of interests. And if I guide people in understanding the nonprofit sector and exploring options, they will often become passionate about certain organizations once they become acquainted with the compelling work that is being done. Sometimes, an array of issues resonate with candidates depending on their life experiences and personalities.
Look how many people are passionate to help in response to the devastation and suffering in Haiti. Yet, if you had asked them last December, most of them wouldn’t have mentioned Haiti, or even natural disasters, among their top three concerns. They’ve become passionate about Haiti because they’ve become aware. And that’s beautiful. But that’s an example of the potential to light up passions by exposing people to needs and opportunities to help.
The business people I work with are usually concerned about finding a board where they can add value, just as much as they are interested in finding a board that serves a mission that they can care about.
Qualifying for a nonprofit board
Having passion alone is not enough to qualify a person to either join a board or to stay on a board–even if you have served on the board for twenty years. The role of the board is to work in partnership with the organization’s CEO to imagine the nonprofit’s greater potential, create an ambitious yet achievable revenue model, and work with all its might to help accomplish strategic and financial success.
For a board to do the best job in serving the community, it needs to be comprised of people from diverse backgrounds and perspectives, with relevant experience and expertise based on the work of the organization and the nonprofit’s aspirations, the wealth and networks to achieve financial success for the nonprofit, and a willingness to give it their all.
Each and every person who takes up a precious seat on the board needs to count in a big way, bringing much-needed value in addition to passion.
Passion is necessary, but not sufficient, for being a member of a nonprofit board.