Page Title

Effective Boards Engage Passionate Volunteers


In my travels across the state to work with organizations, I often hear about the challenges of finding new board members to fill vacant positions.

The need for individuals to serve on boards is great. About 8,480 governmental units and nonprofit organizations need leaders, meaning one in 23 people needs to step up. 

Research shows that people no longer serve on boards for a lifetime as was done with past generations. The obligation to serve on boards and volunteer time to organizations is not as prevalent as it once was.

When members of organizations are looking for board member replacements, think about asking the not so typical board member. Seek out people who haven’t necessarily served in a leadership capacity but clearly have an interest in the organization. Seek out those with diverse backgrounds and life experiences.

Be prepared to share the organizational mission and position expectations. Volunteers want and need to know what the time commitment will be and exactly what is expected of them. Consider creating board member position descriptions. Be clear in the work and responsibility they will need to know to be successful.

Provide adequate training for the board member. Do not set them up to fail. We tend to tell many more people about failures than success stories.  Give new board members something positive to be excited about so they will be advocates for your organization. We all want to be part of a winning team. NDSU Extension provides training for new or aspiring leaders to prepare them to serve on boards and in various leadership capacities.

Serving on a board can be an extremely satisfying experience. It not only provides purpose, but it is a great way to meet new people and build a professional network. Seek out opportunities to serve your community by accepting an opportunity to serve on a board.

Contact your local Extension office for more leadership resources.