"We're a statewide association. We serve and support nonprofits small to large, working on all issues. So we can't be the best resource and the best statewide association if we don't have a diverse team behind the MNA logo. We have to have a diverse team that continues to challenge the conversation.” - Beckie Hawes-Baggett, MNA’s Chief Operating Officer
A Strategy for Board Recruitment
Last year, MNA began to prepare for board member transitions. All but three of their 21 person board would be leaving in the next four years due to term limits in their bylaws. After a landscape analysis, they implemented a new recruitment strategy that began with an internal assessment.
“This resulted in a role description for new board members,” says MNA's President and CEO Kelley Kuhn. “The role description was the driver for how we recruited. Not only did we need to understand the composition of the existing board, we began to think about the board in alignment with our 10-year vision for MNA. What might our work for the next decade look like, and where do we need to have board representation in that space?"
Departing from the traditional board recruitment strategy (which typically consists of existing board members recruiting from their networks) MNA posted a public call for applications and created a form to collect demographic information as well.
“The average age of our board members was 68 and the geographical diversity was not representative of the communities we serve,” says Kuhn. “As the nonprofit association serving the entire state of Michigan, representation matters. So we were very intentional about this and other attributes we needed in this first recruitment cycle.”
The process also helped MNA to look at how the organization has changed. “When we were formed more than 30 years ago, we worked closely with a lot of other statewide serving organizations. But now our membership is made up of more small to medium sized community based organizations, many of whom are led by BIPOC leaders. We also prioritized these attributes when recruiting for the board.”
MNA had conversations with more than 30 potential board members to discuss values alignment and learn more about applicants understanding of nonprofits as well as their lived experience. Says Kuhn, “Through this process, we eventually arrived at six new members and welcomed them to the board in June.”
Hiring For the Nonprofit Sector
Beckie Hawes-Baggett has worked at MNA for 13 years. In her role as Chief Operating Officer, she oversees the hiring process and offers guidance to nonprofits aiming to broaden the diversity of their job applicants and new hires. Here are a few tips from Beckie: