Recruiting And Retaining Quality Board Members And Volunteers

Written by on November 29, 2022

Board members and volunteers are an essential part of any organization and that’s why it’s crucial to select the right candidates for the roles needed. All too often clubs find themselves with a couple of overworked volunteers and others that barely contribute or who don’t have the right skillset (or mindset for that matter) to contribute in the right way.

When in this situation, what usually happens is that the club stays in the status quo never really making any moves forward while creating a couple of burned-out volunteers that eventually walk away.

Just like for anything else that you want to gain traction on, you have to plan to find quality board members and volunteers. When people’s positions on the board are due to come open, how you decide to recruit will reap far better results than leaving it up to chance.

Important Characteristics

In the tool What Defines a Great Board Member, we outline what to look for when looking for volunteers. Essentially, it’s important to find board members and volunteers who are willing to work for the improvement and success of the club. People who can make decisions based on the greater good for all and who have the mindset that they are there to take on responsibilities and to lead others to ensure work is completed and goals are met.

You should avoid those who want to be there for their gain, like improving their resume, or who are already a bit squeamish about meeting regularly or having regular work put upon them. It will pay to be mindful of those who are wishing to be on the board because they have a grudge or an ax to grind.

To recognize the strong candidates and weed out the weak ones, you may want to make statements or ask questions such as:

  • This is not a seat filler position. Everyone on the board is expected to fulfill their responsibilities and to lead other volunteers to reach outcomes.

  • Can you commit to monthly meetings where you will come prepared with pre-work completed and reports turned in on time?

  • Can you commit to a minimum of 5 hours a week to complete your work and to assist others?

  • What do you feel you can contribute to the board and the club?

  • How will that bring success to the club overall?

  • What do you hope to gain by being a board member?

These questions should help you understand if you are dealing with someone who has nothing to offer or someone who is truly looking to be a part of something bigger than themselves.

Skill Sets

When looking for Board Members and Volunteers you must find people who can do the tasks you need them to do. For example, the President should be well organized, can lead a team in a direction, can motivate people with different personalities, can listen and speak with positive intent, and hold people accountable for their actions. A Treasurer should have some form of financial background, and the Secretary must be overly organized and have amazing communication skills.

They should be able to prove they have some experience in the skills you need. For example, it does you no good to have a marketing and communications person who is not familiar with the various forms of social media.

It’s no different when looking for a volunteer. While the requirements might not be as stringent to work at the concession stand on Saturdays, you still want to know they can be on their feet for periods and can work quickly to avoid long lines.

To recruit the Board Member or Volunteer you need, then it has to be a strong combination of someone’s mindset and the skills they can offer. When it comes to board members, simply being willing and able is not enough. Not if you want the club to reach its goals and be successful.

The Makeup of the Board

While this is dictated by your constitution, there’s usually wording that is “must” and “can be”. Let me explain. Usually, the statement is something similar to this: “The board must consist of a President, Secretary, and Treasurer. There must be no less than 5 board members and no more than 7.” So the “musts” are the three board roles and the need for 5 members. The “can be” is that you can have an additional 2 members.

In my opinion, there are two types of additional people that should be on your board, one or two coaches, and one or two people who do not have current athletes on the team.

  1. Coaching Staff – To be successful, the Head Coach must be involved in developing strategic goals and how they will be achieved. The coaching staff and the board must be aligned or those goals will not be reached. Or you will reach them, but they offer no true positive outcome for the club overall.

  2. Independent Members – Having board members who have no personal stake in the game keeps the board balanced both in their perspective and approach. These can be former members or professionals that have a strongly required skill set.

I would go so far as to say, that if it’s not in your constitution that a motion is made at the next AGM to change the wording regarding the makeup of the board to include coaches and independent members.


Now that the board members have made a plan for what you need, you can start the recruiting process. Timely and complete communication is necessary.

You must put information out to your members and the community at least 2 months in advance. People need time, and you want them to take the time, to think about if they can make the commitment required.

Also, be upfront with what you are looking for. If you need specific skill sets, put it in the communication and the job descriptions. If you are looking for motivated individuals who can commit to meeting obligations and leading others, say so.

The more information you provide upfront, the better quality applicants you will have. Remember the goal is to have a Board full of people who can contribute and move the club forward.

Nominations and Elections

The nomination and election process will be dependent on how it’s written in your constitution. The point of this article is to get you to a situation where the decisions and election process is difficult because you have so many quality people to choose from. My only thought on the nomination and election process is to review it and ensure it’s fit for its purpose. If it needs to be adjusted, then work with the board to create a motion that works to the benefit of the club and put it forward at the next AGM.

Finding the right Board Members and Volunteers is essential to the success of any organization. Planning and understanding what is needed is the key to finding such people. If you need help in the recruiting process, let us know. We are here to help.

Read more articles here.

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