At Taproot Foundation, we know connecting talented professionals with opportunities for pro bono and board service can dramatically change the game for nonprofits working to improve society.
Nearly two million nonprofit board seats need to be filled annually. The good news is that professionals want board service. A recent research project Taproot led, in conjunction with BoardSource, found that 87% of human resources professionals and 92% of marketing professionals are interested in board service but far fewer actually serve.
So how can nonprofits and professionals connect? Taproot partnered with LinkedIn to make it easier for nonprofits to find board members – including free use of the $1000 Talent Finder tool and access to LinkedIn’s 200 million members through their Board Member Connect program.
Misha Charles knows the power of LinkedIn to recruit board members. Be inspired by Misha’s story. Build the board that you need to change the world.
Building Nonprofit Boards that Transform Lives
Building Excellent Schools is part of the LinkedIn Board Member Connect program which helps nonprofit leaders easily identify connections to potential board members. Sign up for the next LinkedIn Board Member Connect webinar on February 7th.
On the first Sunday morning of 2013, I found myself in the inaugural meeting of the founding board of directors for a proposed public charter school. Seated around a long table in a sunshine-filled conference room, the six board members introduced themselves, and over plates of eggs, black beans, and rice, shared how they had come to join the team. One by one, each thanked the proposed school’s founder for inviting them to join the board, and one member thanked LinkedIn. Exchanging a knowing glance and chuckle with his colleagues around the table, the member reminded us that every individual on this board had been identified through an exhaustive search on LinkedIn.
I work for an organization called Building Excellent Schools (BES). Through our one-year Fellowship, BES supports entrepreneurs to design, found, lead, and sustain excellent charter schools in underserved communities nationwide. As the Director for Governance and Board Development, I am responsible for ensuring that each BES Fellow identify, vet, and invite 7-9 members for board service at their proposed school.
Founding board members of BES charter schools must believe in our mission, commit the time necessary to found an organization, be dedicated to the community, and contribute to the board’s diversity. At BES, we believe that diverse boards function more effectively and are better stewards of the public trust. We seek diversity in the areas of professional expertise and seniority, gender, age, race/ethnicity, and sometimes, language.
Anyone who recruits board members (or any talent for that matter) knows that, at the end of the day, identifying the right people is all about networking. My challenge at BES–and, frankly, what makes my work exciting–is that every year, I work collaboratively with the Fellows to build 8 to 12 boards simultaneously, in multiple cities, ideally within the first three months of the Fellowship year, and with limited time and contacts on the ground. More than a third of the individuals we have invited and confirmed for charter school boards this year were first identified through LinkedIn. LinkedIn has become an essential tool that allows us to:
- Organize and access existing networks. By finding and connecting on LinkedIn with people they already knew–including each other–the Fellows discovered that their networks were much larger than they thought. Fellows connected with past supervisors, former classmates, and colleagues. As their boards began to take shape, they also connected with their new board members.
- Expand our networks. By browsing the connections and affiliations of their contacts, Fellows were able to identify and learn about the key individuals, companies, and organizations in their cities. They also joined alumni, corporate affinity, and other Groups to find individuals in their cities who shared their interests and backgrounds. Fellows then expanded their networks through hundreds of cold-calls, emails, and introductions by their contacts. They followed up all substantive conversations with a request to connect on LinkedIn.
- Handpick prospects. Within the first week of the Fellowship, I trained Fellows to use LinkedIn Advanced Search and Profiles to hone in on individuals who met specific criteria. For example, Fellows used Advanced Search to locate senior-level legal professionals who speak Spanish and who work for a major employer in their city. They then evaluated the Profiles to learn more about the individuals, their professional background, and Causes they care about.