The critical X-Factor when building a nonprofit board of directors

The Brief
How do you evaluate potential members when building your board? Many nonprofits look at candidates’ wealth and board experience, but there’s more to it than that. No nonprofit can thrive without leveraging relationships, and a board of directors can open up a host of opportunities through its network. Question is, how do you assess something as fluid as relationship capital? Here are four factors to examine as you recruit your next board seat:
building a nonprofit board of directors

1. Social network activity

 First, don’t worry as much about your candidate’s total number of social media followers as how she engages with them. How often is she re-tweeted or favorited? Does she engage with other influencers on social media, or is it all one-sided? 

2. Thought leadership

Your org will need a board that exerts influence—for recruitment, fundraising, etc. Look for a history of speaking engagements and/or publication, which can indicate the kind of weight your candidate’s opinion receives from peers. 

3. Professional prestige

While your board should be a diverse group of people from various backgrounds, you should look for at least a few senior executives. Sure the higher salary and donation potential is a plus, but chances are also good that such a person has engaged with a greater number of similar professionals, who can be tapped for support later on. 

4. Nonprofit experience

This is pretty simple—has your candidate sat on boards before, and if so, what was her level of engagement while on those boards? It’s a fair indicator of how active she will be on behalf of your organization. You can use RelSci profiles to see where they’ve been and who they’ve worked with. Request a profile on one of your board member’s here

There’s no magic formula for choosing the perfect board member. Relationship capital is just one element. For more on how to weigh networks against wealth and experience when seeking board members, download our free white paper, “The third variable you must consider when building your board of directors.”


RelSci is a technology solutions company that helps create competitive advantage for organizations through a crucial yet vastly underutilized asset: relationship capital with influential decision makers. 

Learn how to create internal sales opportunities from all of your employees with our white paper, “The third variable you must consider when building your board of directors“. 


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