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

It is important to be clear on the values that should be embraced by new board members, because recruitment and effective board functioning is in essence a value-driven process. The fundamental values of the NPO must be clarified and communicated to prospective board members. With clear values in mind, the board can now start with the process of identifying potential people who can serve on the board. This process cannot be completed at one board meeting and the board should be prepared to do this over a period of time. The execution of this task can be delegated to individual board members and staff.

It is important to keep the following in mind:

  • Conflicting interests. Some people may be in a position of conflict of interest with the NPO. Sometimes this may be inevitable, but in most cases it is better to completely avoid such a situation. For example, if someone is already serving on the same board of another NPO that is applying for funds from the same donors, it would be better not to recruit such a person to the board as the conflict of interest may have a detrimental impact on the organisation. It is important for the NPO to have a conflict of interest policy that sets out the procedure to be followed in situations where a conflict of interest arises.
  • Legal limitations. Some people, in terms of the law, cannot be appointed to the board. The Companies Act disqualifies certain people from serving on a board of directors of companies. The board must therefore be aware of the requirements of law when recruiting members.
  • Overstretched individuals. There are many individuals serving on a number of boards because of their popularity and high profile. The result is that they are not able to give effective attention to any specific organisation. Avoid this kind of individual. Effective NPOs need to be looking for effective board members who can pay attention to, and engage with, the particular needs of the board and the organisation.
  • A board in disarray. It is not a good idea to recruit new board members when the existing board is in disarray and is dysfunctional. It would be better first to resolve internal turmoil so that a positive organisational image is reflected in the state of the board.


The Board Walk: Good Governance Guide No.1. Recruitment, Orientation and Involvement of Non-profit Board Members.  (Page 14-15). This book can be purchased via our online store. Click here for a copy.

Related Resource:

Starting the board recruitment process