[Excerpt from Inyathelo publication: “The Board Walk: Good Governance Guide No.1. Recruitment, Orientation and Involvement of Non-profit Board Members.”]

At Inyathelo, we call attention to the need to constantly cultivate relationships with potential donors, investors and supporters as one of the foundations to attracting resources. Relationships take time and effort to develop. Building a successful relationship with potential board members may also take time.

Potential board members are often recruited on the premise that the organisation won’t take up too much of their time and they have to attend not more than four meetings a year. Some may have been handed organisational documents and few are introduced to the staff or ever visit the project office. Attending meetings and adding to the discussion are often seen as the order of the day for board members. This is a problematic way of recruiting board members.

Some of the problems being experienced by NPOs today can relate to non-existent or ineffective recruitment and orientation strategies.

These problems include: 

  • Boards not being fully aware of their governance responsibilities.
  • Boards not giving strategic direction to the NPO or not showing much innovation.
  • Boards becoming disengaged.
  • Board members only being interested in building their CVs, with no commitment towards fulfilling their governance responsibilities.
  • Board members not complying with legal and institutional requirements of the NPO and exceeding the limits of their authority.
  • Board members not complying with the founding documents of the NPO.
  • Conflicts of interests not dealt with effectively because such conflicts were not anticipated at the time of recruitment and board members therefore being unaware of what to do when such situations arise.
  • Lack of board engagement and oversight with regard to financial reporting.

These problems can result in:

  • Mismanagement of financial affairs of the NPO, with a range of serious consequences.
  • NPOs losing registration status and benefits from public offices because they do not meet the requirements of law or policy.
  • NPOs having to pay penalty fees for not submitting documents, reports or returns on time to public offices.
  • NPOs being taken to the CCMA and Labour Court (and having to pay compensation) for not complying with their duties towards employees.
  • NPOs losing potential funding from donors because of non-compliance with their obligations toward funders.

Such problems may not all directly stem from recruitment and orientation processes, but they do highlight the consequences of the most often neglected areas of a board’s governance responsibilities. However, we believe that these common problems can be minimised if NPOs have effective mechanisms to recruit and orientate new board members.


The Board Walk: Good Governance Guide No.1. Recruitment, Orientation and Involvement of Non-profit Board Members. (Page 10-11). This book can be purchased via our online store. Click here for a copy.

Related Resources:

How is a board structured?

Board Orientation and Involvement