Greg Cantori, former executive director of the Maryland Association of Nonprofits (410-409-9573), has spent his career in top positions at nonprofit organizations and served on a number of boards, but when one organization where he was board chair began advertising for board members on Craigslist, he wasn’t expecting much.
“But we had great results,” Cantori said.
“This was at Bike Maryland and we were challenged in getting good board members,” he said.
The organization needed board members with both a bicycling background and certain skill sets the board lacked, Cantori said, and by being clear on the time requirements and skill set the board wanted, the organization had good results on Craigslist.
First, the organization advertised for a CPA with a biking background and an attorney with the same interests, he said. “We recruited a couple board members this way,” he said, “and the quality of the board members was outstanding.”
Another recruiting tool Cantori has seen work well is offered through Businessvolunteers Maryland (http://businessvolunteersmd.org). He said they act as a liaison between the nonprofit and business communities and are active in several states. “They tend to provide midlevel managers who are building their résumés and want to build experience in the community,” he said.
Working with Businessvolunteers has its advantages, because it offers a board training class concerning effective board governance. “What is cool is that the nonprofits apply for a board member by saying they need a certain skills set,” Cantori said. “Once they are trained, the volunteers receive a list of nonprofits looking for board members.”
Cantori said his organization found fantastic board members by using this service. “They come in pretrained, knowing they will have to give money, their time and serve with a duty of care, loyalty and obedience,” he said.
There are no misunderstandings about the board member’s job, he said. “They actually elevated the rest of the board’s behavior,” Cantori said. “They insisted our minutes and financials were in order before the meeting, and on making sure a quorum was in place at the meeting.”
No other nonprofits were using these techniques to recruit board members at the time, Cantori said, so his organization got a “scoop.”
“A lot of people spend a lot of time on Craigslist,” he said.
Tip: Advertise for board members under the “multiple” category on Craigslist. “One [listing] was for bicycles and the other was for volunteer opportunities or ‘positions’ under the jobs sections,” Cantori said. “We treated the board member job as a position.”