By James D’Ambrosio

Recruiting strong candidates to serve on the board of directors is a vital management  task in operating a successful nonprofit. Well-qualified, enthusiastic professionals with the desired knowledge, skills,  experience and judgment are always in demand. The trick is finding them. There’s a new resource I just learned about that can help with recruitment efforts.


On September 17, LinkedIn launched LinkedIn Board Connect, a program helping nonprofit executives identify and recruit well-qualified individuals to serve on boards of directors. The program includes: a) free access to Talent Finder (a $1,000 value as part of a premium account); b) access to an educational webcast delivered by experts; and c) membership to LinkedIn’s Board Connect Group providing access to valuable content and a strong network of nonprofit professionals.

Board Connect is being launched in “limited release,” providing an opportunity to learn from nonprofits initially taking part. (NOTE: The webcast is scheduled for Wednesday, October 10, at 10 a.m., EDT. After signing up and attending the Webcast, you’ll have free access to a Talent Finder account and exclusive access to the LinkedIn Board Connect Group.)

Prior to roll out, nonprofits representing two key sectors — social entrepreneurs and education leadership — were identified to test the program and team up for the launch. Partners include: Teach for America; Draper Richards Kaplan Foundation; New Schools Venture Fund; and Charter Board Partners. According to LinkedIn, these types of organizations are well suited to benefit from Board Connect.


On a blog post, Meg Garlinghouse, LinkedIn’s head of social impact charged with identifying initiatives creating positive social impact, notes that while Board Connect is open to all U.S.-registered nonprofit agencies, it’s particularly well suited to small-to-medium-sized agencies that lack the resources or brand recognition to recruit board members. She explains that LinkedIn will monitor the number of nonprofits using Board Connect and plans to survey nonprofit executives gauging their success in securing professionals to join their board of directors and how strong those matches were.


While there is no perfect way to recruit board members, my own experience using LinkedIn professionally has certainly helped me connect (no pun intended) with some very accomplished individuals who I otherwise might not have had access to. In addition, LinkedIn continues to grow with 175+ million members who, with few exceptions, are predominantly professionally-minded individuals. In keeping with the theme of this blog — providing information and resources that can help nonprofits increase efficiency and meet mission — I present this resource as another  method of board recruitment that some agencies might find useful.

Learn More and Sign Up Here:



What do you think of this new program? Are you inclined to try it?

What You Should Know Before Joining a Nonprofit Board (Part II)

By James V. D’Ambrosio

Building on the last column, the following are additional items to consider before joining a nonprofit board:

What is the organization’s financial status?  Ask for a copy of the agency’s most recent IRS Form 990, a detailed financial document nonprofits are required to file each year with the IRS and make available publicly (agencies with less than $25,000 income are exempt). In addition to revenue and expenditures, the 990 breaks out how funds are allocated and shows compensation for the highest paid employee(s), usually the executive director/CEO and top management.

What is the board size? In general, the smaller the board, the more will be asked of you. For example, an agency with 4-6 trustees is often associated with a young nonprofit with fewer resources, relying on trustees to help with the agency’s work. In contrast, an agency with 18-24 trustees likely indicates an established nonprofit, and will focus primarily on governance and strategic planning. And some nonprofits will fall in-between.

What committees does the board have? This is important. New board members are often asked to serve on a committee. Common committees include finance, nominating, development, program, communications/PR, and audit. Make sure to join a committee that aligns with your interests and experience.

Are there any ongoing/prior lawsuits against the board? You should know about  any legal issues — board members are only protected from liability if their actions are within the agency’s established boundaries. A lawsuit may indicate the board operates beyond its scope of authority. That said, there are many frivolous lawsuits of no consequence. So if there is a legal issue(s), understand it’s nature and decide if it’s really a problem.

This series is a general guide for prospective board members — not a comprehensive listing . What else do you think is important to know before joining a nonprofit board?

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