Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Non-profit Board recruitment resources

Board recruitment is on my mind because I'm starting my second year chairing a non-profit Board and the personnel committee, which in our organization serves as the nominations committee, has asked me to help them think through the framing of our nominations process. As a pastor in the United Methodist church, I also serve as the chair of our congregation's nominations committee, so it also true that I've always got nominations thoughts in the back of my mind. 

I remember the first non-profit Board on which I served. It was a local Board, and I remember looking around and noting that I was the youngest one there and likely the only person of my generation. I was also the only pastor. In retrospect, I had likely been invited to join the group in large part because someone had been working from a Board matrix and was hoping to fill in some spots that had looked empty. That Board was where I gained my working knowledge of profit/loss reports, donor relations and personnel committees; and in my second term learned how to conduct organizational merger due diligence when our affiliate merged with one in a city a few counties away. Since then I have served as the Executive Director of two non-profits, Interim Executive Director of two others, and been a member and/or officer of at least twelve others. I've learned a great deal along the way, including the value of taking the time to recruit a mission-focused Board of Directors. 

Some Boards on which I have served have fairly well-defined recruitment plans accompanied by firm two three-year term rotations for service, but many others have found themselves dealing with some stress when they realize that several long-term Board members are retiring from service at the same time. I went searching online for some of my favorite tools for considering both recruitment and composition, and have assembled some here.

I remember the first time I heard of something called a Board Matrix. I think it was about 15 years ago, and I was probably attracted to it because it involved a chart and the word "matrix." When I searched for more information about the board matrix, the first thing I found was a critique of it from Blue Avocado, the enewsletter of American Nonprofits (find out more and sign up for the enews here: blue avocado This article matrix critique describes both the board matrix model of analyzing board composition and then proposes a better way, which hinges on recruiting Board members to help meet the goals of the organization.

The idea is this: determine what your organizational goals are, figure out what your Board’s role is in meeting those goals, and recruit people who can help you achieve those goals. This might sound like an obvious recruitment strategy, but often we use other strategies, such as replacing a Board member with someone we already know well; finding someone who reminds us of the person who is departing; or continuing to mine a particular institution or workplace for volunteers who serve in sequence.

I suggest reading the Blue Avocado article above deeply but then returning to some of the notions of what made the matrix popular a decade or so ago. Here’s a link to a sample template I found online: matrix template While the formulaic nature of the matrix can be problematic, stifle creativity and prevent the nominations or governance committee from recruiting new members with the overall vision and/or near-term goals in mind, I do think it carries with it the asset of accountability when it comes to having a lens for diversity within the governing body. Any time we are intentional about saying, “who is at our governing body table, and are they representative of our community and people who might be overlooked?” I think we are helping our Board of Directors become stronger.

I think diversity in a Board of Directors strengthens the group, and this includes personal demographics as well as knowledge base, constituent and affinity groups, and local/regional perspectives. While I was looking for a sample board matrix, I found this article, which is one of many on different topics related to diversity on non-profit Boards. I think it is helpful and compelling: racial diversity on nonprofit boards

I like to include a garden photo - this is a photo of the Botanicial garden in Berlin, from September 2016



Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Resources for new SPRC members

One of our new members to the Staff Parish Relations Committee (SPRC) at South Gate asked me if I could help locate some resource to help them become more familiar with both the work of that committee and general United Methodist structure. I thought this was a good question, and figured I'd post what I found all in one place so I could share it with the other members of the committee and anyone else who found it useful. There are many resources out there; I thought these would be a good starting point.

Staff Parish Relations Commitee
Let's start with some basic information from Discipleship Ministries. Formerly known as The General Board of Discipleship, it is one of what we call the General Agencies of the UMC. The current General Secretary, or person with "the buck stops here" status, is Rev. Junius Dotson, a pastor who most recently served in Wichita, Kansas. The offices for Discipleship Ministries are located in Nashville, Tennessee, and include the Upper Room Chapel. Find their SPRC information here: SPRC leadership info

UMC Church Structure
The rule book of the UMC is called the Book of Discipline. It is revised every four years at General Conference by a group of 850 or so people. At the 2016 meeting of General Conference, it was decided that a free copy would be posted online. Here's the link: Digital Book of Discipline  for those who are interested.
Discipleship ministries has clickable links from the SPRC page that provide additional information about other church committees and general structure. Another excellent source of information about UMC structure is the website for the church itself. Start here: UMC church structure and click articles of particular interest.

Information to gather from the local church
I'm thinking each year it is a good plan to make sure all SPRC members have copies of the following for their congregation, and they aren't available to consider creating them:

Written job descriptions
Line item budgets for the previous and current year
Any staff/pastor evaluations from the past year, or a summary if that is more appropriate
Staff organizational chart
Summary of payroll deadlines/timelines with notes about who does which parts of the process
Review of any insurance related to employees
Review of how vacation/sick time/time off is recorded and calculated
Review of which employees are salaried/hourly/contract
Safe Gatherings policy

Any blog with the word garden in it should have at least one photo of something garden-fresh; this is a bouquet from a wedding we attended in Brooklyn last February.