Joining a Search Committee?


6 Considerations for Nonprofit Board Members

search committeeImagine this scenario:
You’re sitting on a nonprofit board where you have invested your time, talent and money over many years. The CEO has unexpectedly resigned leaving behind a dramatic leadership crisis. Because of this sudden change, employees are concerned and keeping the staff focused and maintaining morale proves to be a difficult task. You wonder, “What are we going to do without a leader? What will happen to our funders, foundations and other stakeholders that invest in our programs and services?”

If you ever find yourself in this situation, reality says you’re not alone. Leadership situations like this scenario happen for nonprofits more often than not, so it’s important to be prepared. When you are asked to be on the search committee to fill your CEO’s critical role, determine if you are you up to the task. Here are some points you may like to consider:

1. Taking on a Key Role

You will be taking a key seat since typically about 5-8 stakeholders sit on the search committee. Ask yourself, “Do I really want to take on this responsibility?”

2. You Already Work Full Time

You have a full time job, the search committee is likely to be a 3-6 month time commitment. Showing up for meetings is essential. Nobody wants to be responsible for dragging down the process of replacing the CEO. Can you make the commitment to a few primary tasks at hand? Such as:

  • Developing a job description
  • Searching through hundreds of resumes for the perfect candidate
  • Participating in the interviewing process
  • Determining the terms of the job offer
  • Developing a transition plan for the new leader

3. Determining the Future of the Organization

Although respecting the past is important, this is an opportunity to create a new strategic vision for the organization based on the attributes of your new leader.

4. Attracting Top Talent, Asking the Right Questions

As a member of a high performing board, your charge will be to attract top talent. You and your colleagues on the search committee will be the face of the organization during the search.

You will need to develop a comfortable dialogue with prospective candidates. Your charge will be to ask the right questions so you can assess for talent and successful track record. This is a time consuming task, but once completed accurately, you’ll be on your way to discovering your perfect fit.

5. Respect Confidentiality throughout the Recruiting Process

You must be very sensitive to confidentiality throughout the entire process. You do not want to lose an “A” candidate because this part of the search process wasn’t protected.

6. Engaging a Search Firm

Selecting an executive search firm to facilitate and manage the search process will take much of the difficult, day-to-day, time consuming recruiting work off your shoulders. Partner with a search firm to move the process along quickly and efficiently.

We get that your nonprofit means a lot to you. You want it to succeed. It’s quite an honor to be on the board so take that coveted seat on the search committee and leave your legacy. Future generations will benefit from the outstanding work performed by your nonprofit organization.

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From your experiences, do you have other points to consider about being on a search committee within your organization? Share your thoughts in the comments!


Tagged With: Executive Search, Expert Knowledge

Susan Paley Zak

In her position as Director of Executive Recruiting at Dise & Company since 2004, Susan Paley Zak leverages her broad network of contacts in business, professional and nonprofit communities to help clients find the right talent for their organizations. Throughout her successful career in the human resources Susan’s signature accomplishment has been to bring an entrepreneurial zeal to whatever she touches.