The most important committee of any nonprofit board (after the Executive Committee is eliminated) is the Governance Committee.


The entire structure, spirit, productiveness and camaraderie of any board is based upon the people comprising that board!

Therefore, the careful recruiting and selecting process based upon insightful mixing and matching of skills, passions and personalities by the Governance Committee is critical.

Literally, one or two bad choices for board members who bring little passion or a being of indifference can slowly destroy the effectiveness of any board over time.

Great Advice From Another

Based upon a recent article I read entitled “How To Select First Rate Board Members” by Joan Garry a flood of ideas of how to help any Governance Committee emerged.

Joan seemed to have truly had some fun with the questions you wish you could ask. Here are a few of my favorites from that portion of her post:

  • “Can you assure us that you won’t ask any really stupid questions at a board meeting?”
  • “When someone says something you disagree with, do you either sigh or roll your eyes?”
  • “How many times in the last month have you been on a conference call, hit the MUTE button, and checked your
  • email?”

…and my absolute favorite:

  • “Are you rich? I mean, like really rich. We need really rich people on our board.”

Yes, you will enjoy the rest when you read the full post!

The real meat and potatoes of Joan’s excellent post are the questions you can ask.

Here are my favorites from her superb list:

  • “What do you know about our organization? Why are you interested in committing your time and energy to us?”
  • “What do you think are the characteristics of a great board member?”
  • “What kind of autonomy do you have over your calendar? There will be meetings between board meetings, occasional donor lunches.”

Notice how they go right to the heart of the matter when searching for the BEST nonprofit board members. They focus in on what I consider to be the five key traits of top-notch board members:

  • True Passion for the Mission
  • Successful Track Record of Achievement
  • Innate Ability to Work with Others
  • Willingness to be Fully Involved in Fundraising
  • Knows How to Make Time Available

Honestly, aside from having special training in such fields as legal, accounting, HR or other areas of professional expertise, could any board filled with individuals possessing those five traits form various age and ethnic groups be anything short of marvelous?

Formulate Your Own Set of Key Questions

Using Joan’s questions as a starting point please take the time to formulate a larger set of questions that can be spread out across the multiple steps in recruiting board members. From the initial call to the one to two face-to-face meetings with others on the Governance Committee to the meeting with key staff of the nonprofit, such questions will illuminate the very best board members.

In fact, once in place all of you involved in the selection process will wonder how you ever achieved any results by doing it any other way!