Tag Archives: recruiting new board members

Welcoming New Association Members

Welcome

How much time, effort and money does your Association spend on recruiting new members? Probably quite a bit! To ensure that all these efforts pay off, you want to make sure to take the right steps to make your members feel welcome!

 
Once a new member has been sourced and approved, it is important that they are given a good first impression of the Association. Experienced board members and long time members likely know their association inside out. But keep in mind – your new members don’t! It is important to provide new members with all relevant information about the association. To guide them through new territory but also to leave that sparkling first impression. It will give them reassurance about their decision to join.
But what information is helpful to a new member? The membership chair or committee should welcome new members; either personally by giving them a phone call or sending them a welcoming letter. New members should also be recognized by name at your Chapter events during the President’s welcoming comments.

 
It is highly recommended to have a membership package, that can be personalized and sent to each newly signed up member. Although many associations have adapted to sending most communication electronically, sending a paper copy of the welcoming package via mail is recommended. It looks professional and will likely be appreciated by your members!

 
Membership packages should include the following
1. Personalized Welcome Letter – written and signed by the Chapter’s President and Membership Chair
2. Log In Information for the association’s website (if applicable) – this should include information on how to set up, personalize and change their online profile, how to pay their member dues, how to register for events online, how to connect with other members through the member portal and how to generally take advantage of other sections your website might have (e.g. news sections, discussion forums, picture gallery, event archives, etc)
3. A clear outline of Membership Requirements – for example information on when to renew their membership, on how to earn continuing education credits or other association participation standards that are required in order to maintain their membership.
4. Legal Documents – such as the Society Act or any other codes of conduct, standards of practice or insurance requirements that may apply to your association and that new members should be informed of.
5. Member Benefits Package – It is important that new members are fully aware of all of the benefits associated with their membership. This may include member discounts to events, invitations to members-only events, access to special seminars, specific online or printed publications, mentorship programs, etc.
6. Information on the Association’s History – although the new member has probably done a bit of research before joining the association, it is recommended to provide something about the association’s background and history in writing. This could be a small pamphlet or flyer for example. It is always good to outline and emphasize the association’s vision and goals.
7. Information about WHERE TO GET HELP! It is important for your members to know who they can contact if they have any questions, concerns or problems (for example registering for an event, or cancelling an event registration, etc). Make sure your administrator and support staff’s contact information is clearly displayed!
It is also recommended to list your association’s Board of Directors. Outline their responsibilities and include their email-addresses and/or phone numbers, so members can contact them for more specific questions.

How To Recruit New Board Members

With the new year approaching, many non-for-profit organizations are facing their Annual General Meeting and with that, changes to their Board of Directors. A strong board is the basis of every organization’s impact and success in the community. Having the right people with a variety of skills on board, will help your organization achieve its strategic goals.

These simple steps will help you form and maintain a strong and successful Board of Directors:

1 – Evaluate your current board: Recruiting new board members begins with assessing current board members’ skills and contributions: Are the current board members fulfilling their commitments?
Who will be leaving the board at the end if this term and which skills, experiences and qualities will then be missing?

2 – Evaluate your current situation: What challenges does your organization face and what qualities in a new board member could help the organization execute its short and long-term goals? For example, if the organization is struggling with its finances, you will want to look for someone with a strong financial background.

3 – Form a Board Nominating or Board Development Committee: Evaluating the current board and recruiting new board members should be a year-round process. It is recommended to form a small committee exclusively responsible for board development and future recruitment. It allows the Board of Directors to focus on their actual tasks, while this specific committee continuously focuses on the board’s performance and upcoming vacancies. The Nominating Committee may be a small mix of board chairs and members of the organization. Often, past board chairs sit on nominating committees, as they have a strong understanding of the organization. (You may consult with your staff members or your Executive Director about potential recruitment, if applicable, but do not involve them formally in the nomination process).

4 – Keep your members involved and in mind: Taking the position of a chair on the board is often a result of a long-term commitment in other areas of the organization. For example, look who has been sitting on sub-committees for years, helping to plan certain events, annual conferences or who is leading the organization’s Young Professional Group.

5 – Use a ‘Board Application Form’: Once you have potential candidates, have them fill out a simple Board Application Form. Ask them about relevant (work) experience, their qualities and skills and what they think they can contribute to the organization. Ask why they are interested in joining the board and if they are involved with other groups or in the community (also to avoid a conflict of interest with other organizations). General qualities like integrity, a certain time commitment, the ability to work within a team and the interest in your organization’s mission and goals should be a given.

6 – Invite the perfect candidates: Let the prospect candidate(s) participate in one of your board meetings. Introduce them to your directors, and let them be part of the rest of the board meeting. It will give them the chance to envision themselves on the board and get a feel for the group they would be part of.

7 – Help with the transition: Once a new director has joined the board, make sure that the previous chair sets aside some time to ‘train’ or lead the incoming director into their new role. Provide them with any materials that might be relevant to their new role on the board and offer continued support until their integration into the group and their new role is complete.

By Patricia Tait