Finding A New Nonprofit Board Chair

by Nonprofitjobs

With so much uncertainty in the economy these days, finding a great nonprofit board chair is more important than ever. Here are some tips to get you on the right track.


Finding a great nonprofit board chair is crucial to the success of any organization.  This is because they take on a great deal of the responsibility on a board.  Their duties include delegating and encouraging board members, in addition to giving a sense of identity and purpose to the board.  That's why it's so important that an organization makes informed decisions when selecting a new board chair.  Mistakes during this process can have siginificant long-term consequences.


Who is at the head of your board?
Who is at the head of your board?

The Advice

Dennis C. Miller of Dennis C. Miller Associates in Morristown, N.J., in a column for The NonProfit Times, offered some suggestions to about how to best find a new board chair.  They are as follows:

  • Assess the leadership talent of current board members.  This will help you determine what kind of personality is needed in the board chair.
  • If you know that your current board chair is planning on leaving soon, ask them to start to identify a list of potential candidates.
  • All board members should get continued training.  This will ensure your board runs smoothly, making it a more attractive opportunity for potential hirees.
  • To make the transition easier, offer your chair-elect a professional board coach/mentor.
  • Keep morale strong by finding ways to reward board members for what they do.  It's crucial that their hard work goes appreciated.
  • Provide opportunities for all board members to participate in a wide array of committees, task forces and advisory boards.
  • Ensure that the board's work is done efficiently.

Traits Of A Board Chair

One of the most important skills a board chair must have is the ability to think strategically.  They must be able to make difficult decisions in a timely manner, and it's hard to do this without the ability to think outside the box.  They must also be accountable for the organization's long-term sustainability.  But that doesn't mean the whole weight of the world falls on their shoulders.

That's why it's important for a board chair to have good organizational skills.  The ideal candidate should be confident enough to delegate responsibility amongst other members.  The entire board should be on the same page so that when it comes time for a report, everybody speaks with one voice.  Here are some additional traits you should look for in a potential board chair:

  • The ability to be a team player.  One of the keys to a successful board chair is having a positive relationship with the chief executive.
  • Excellent communication skills are required.  This includes oral and written.
  • A strong personality.  Shy people need not apply.

More Board Sources

The NonProfit Times
Read the latest news about boards and other nonprofit news from our official website.

BoardSource is dedicated to advancing the public good by building exceptional nonprofit boards and inspiring board service.

The Nonprofit Jobseeker
Find the latest nonprofit jobs, or post ones in your organization, including board positions.

Updated: 12/14/2011, Nonprofitjobs
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