Most of the time, when a Non Profit Board is created, it involves a few people who had the idea in the first place to sit and ask themselves,” Who do we want to recruit to do this with us?”
All of you then spend the afternoon racking your brains trying to figure out who else you want to ask to participate in this cause, and put their names on the dotted line. Keep in mind, that as your organization grows, the Board is going to ultimately be in charge, and call all of the shots. It is easy to base your decisions on soliciting individuals based on the fact that they volunteer with other organizations. This really hits home if you are located in a small town. In that case, all organizations are usually operating with the same individuals serving on the same board of directors. In the event that you have a large pool of potential people to help you or a small one, there are a few key things I want you to watch out for before you ask someone to assist you in furthering your cause. The reason being is because this is basically going to be the equivalent of a marriage. You will be up close and personal with everyone, and you will be making decisions concerning money.
Keep in mind that there are reasons over 50% of divorces are over money. Money causes issues between people. You are going to be in this for the long haul, and you need everyone to be as level headed as possible.
You definitely want individuals that are forward thinkers, positive, and are innovative for sure. You need to create a nontoxic board of directors.
However, there are a few personality types that can and will spell trouble in the long run, and most likely serve as your organization’s kiss of death at some point. These types may thrive in the business sector, but most likely will not in the nonprofit sector.
I am going to list the traits of those that I have either experienced firsthand, or heard horror stories of.
Arrogant/Disconnected People – These two traits usually go hand and hand. These are going to be the ones that expect everyone to cater to their every whim, and are usually in the role of being a volunteer not because they want to help, but because it makes them look awesome. You know of those of which I speak. However, they could care less about anyone that cannot do anything for them. When times get bumpy (and they can,) they will be the first to save their own skin. Want to know a quick way to weed them out? Go out to eat with them and watch how they treat the wait staff. If they sit and act like royalty on their thrones, then that is as far as you need to go with them. Another way to identify these types is how they treat animals. You can even bring up the topic of a cat stuck in a tree, or a puppy on the side of the road, and then listen to the conversation progress. If nothing is said about assisting the poor animal, and in some cases, jokes made about furthering its demise, walk away while you are still ahead.
Individuals That Cannot Handle Their Personal Business – I will be the first to admit to you that you want to surround yourself with the most intelligent people you can find to help you with your cause. I will also be the first to tell you that a PhD does not necessarily mean they are the best educated, or best suited for what you want to do. If a person is known to have continuous strife in their personal life, regardless of their title, it will carry over into the organization at some point. You cannot expect someone to operate smoothly as a volunteer if there is constant chaos in their personal life. For Example: If it is a well-kept secret that domestic abuse exists in their home, they cannot be expected to have an impact in the lives of individuals that are survivors of domestic abuse. Make sense?
Individuals That Gossip, Openly Slander Others, And Cause Drama- If it is known that a particular person is always in the process of saying nasty things about other people and spilling others secrets to everyone, then know they will do it the minute they have the opening to such a thing, about the entity that you are creating. It will not matter if they do this public or privately. When everyone is trying to work together, you can have disagreements and even debate a topic. That can actually be very productive in the end. However, if you constantly have those in place that stay in an aggressive state towards everyone around them, it will prove to be deadly to what you are trying to do. Why would anyone work with someone that is always in an aggressive mood towards everyone? Furthermore, why would a donor give to that hot mess of a dynamic? Not to mention the negative PR your organization may receive. These types can be like poison in the well water.
Word of Advice: Disagreements and different points of view are alright and can be welcomed. Everyone can agree to disagree and work to meet in the middle. Surround yourself with innovative thinkers that are open to discussion about different things, and that are overall proactive and positive in their lives. Want to know how to recognize them? They build everything up around them instead of tearing it down. Go find those types and bribe them with cookies to join you! You will accomplish 100 fold more with a few positive people around you, which can synergize and create a symphony of awesomeness vs ones that insist on poisoning the well water.
Until Next Time,
Bare Philanthropy LLC
Follow me here on Linkedin
For more information on how to start and grow a nonprofit organization
Disclaimer ****The material appearing in this publication is for informational purposes only, and is not certified professional advice. Please do not act on any information contained herein without seeking competent professional counsel.