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

Recruitment is a two-way process in which it is as important for an existing board and the NPO to make a good impression on a potential board member as it is for the potential board member’s skills and values to suit the organisation’s needs. To start, the board should have a well-prepared strategy on how the NPO will interact with potential board members. It is said that first impressions last – it is therefore important that potential board members are impressed right from the start with the level of the board’s organisation, its operations, and the welcoming of new board members.

We suggest that, once all relevant information has been collected on potential board members, the board decides how it is going to develop potential members’ interest in the affairs of the NPO.

The following information can be collected on prospective board members:

  1. Profession and/or position of person
  2. Address and contact details
  3. Academic qualifications
  4. Professional skills
  5. Community involvement
  6. Experience in serving on boards
  7. Skills that would benefit the NPO

Those potential board members must be made aware of the objectives and activities of the NPO before they are approached directly to serve on the board. This may take a few months, and reinforces the caution outlined above that the board should not approach people only when a vacancy arises.

Helpful suggestions in developing such interest:

  • Invite potential board members to the annual general meetings and specific events of the NPO.
  • Issue personal invitations to potential board members.
  • Send the NPO’s newsletter or other relevant information to them on a regular basis.
  • Do not send too much information or communications to prospective board members. The board should select the specific kinds of communication that should go to them, as too much information can simply be ignored.

Having developed the interest of potential board members, the board can now identify those who responded positively to their efforts. Some people may display little interest and may not respond to any of the communications that were sent out. The board can decide either to continue with efforts to develop that person’s interest, or to focus its energy and time on others who have responded.


The Board Walk: Good Governance Guide No.1. Recruitment, Orientation and Involvement of Non-profit Board Members.  (Page 16-17). This book can be purchased via our online store. Click here for a copy.

Related Resource:

Board Cultivation