What is a Board of Directors?

A Board of Directors is an elected group of individuals that represent the shareholders of an organization or members of a not-for-profit organization. They are to provide strategic direction to the organization and oversight of senior management’s activities. In a not-for-profit, the Board is responsible for governing the organization. The tips to follow can be the difference between a Board being able to effectively operate an organization versus inspiring and driving its success.


Being an effective Board member means being committed. This can be seen by preparing for meetings ahead of time, attending meetings on time, not missing meetings, and contributing to meetings. Being a Board member can be a serious time commitment. Some Boards can meet at least once or twice a month. Therefore, if you are not willing to put your all into the role, this might not be the best position for you.


Board members who are passionate about the cause or end goal they are working towards will tend to be more effective. This type of Board member will be more engaged and committed to the organization.


This tip can mean diversity in Board members’ talents or personal characteristics. For instance, a Board can be diversified with different ethnicities, age groups, genders, or physical diversities. A diverse array of talents should also be on a Board since it will create a more influential Board that can readily meet the challenges it faces. This will help to create a more balanced Board of Directors with knowledge on a wide breadth of topics. Some of these talents can include networking, marketing, accounting, or legal expertise. More diverse Boards will bring different perspectives and avoid issues such as groupthink.


The quantity issue of Boards goes hand in hand with the quality of Boards discussed under diversity. Your Board of Directors could be a large group of people, but if there is no diversity, they are not going to be overly effective. The size of each Board of Directors will vary from organization to organization; however, it is generally accepted that eight to twelve board members is ideal to bring a wide range of talent and experience without becoming overly cumbersome or bureaucratic. One question you should ask yourself is this: does the Board have enough Directors to ensure the skills and expertise of the Board match the key risks and strategies of the organization?

Term Lengths

By having term lengths, your organization will ensure there is a mixture of new and veteran members. This will help to ensure fresh and new ideas are flowing into the organization and new connections are being made.

How Do I Recruit This Talent?

While the above list is not all-inclusive, it can be a good starting point to help make your Board more effective. Below are also some tips on how your organization can recruit an effective Board:

  • Determine what skills your Board needs – if you know what strengths your Board needs to succeed, this will provide you with an opportunity to search for people with those specific traits. This information can be gathered by polling or creating a survey among existing Board members.
  • Create an accurate title and description for the vacancy – this should be like a job posting. If someone does not know what their roles and responsibilities would be, they will be less likely to apply, even if they are passionate.
  • Communicate with qualified candidates – to find the best candidates, the organization should extend different forms of communication such as emails, phone calls, and social media.
  • Interview prospects – establish a simple process for choosing, interviewing, and assessing all candidates. This interview should be treated like a job interview.
  • Provide a formal orientation – this orientation should summarize components such as the organization’s history, mission statement, finances, and goals. This will allow the new Board member to come to their first meeting fully and give them a stronger foundation of knowledge and expectations.

Interested in learning more about Board Governance? Join Murray Short for a comprehensive training session.