Using A Networked Approach To Build Nonprofit Boards: LinkedIn Board Connect Launches | Beth’s Blog

Using A Networked Approach To Build Nonprofit Boards: LinkedIn Board Connect Launches

Networked Nonprofit



LinkedIn announced Board Connect, resources that helps nonprofits transform themselves into networked nonprofits by finding and recruiting board members using a networked approach.  Leveraging their own networks as well as their board members’ networks, nonprofit leaders now have free access to a premium LinkedIn feature that lets them search for and connect with professionals who meet the needs of their organization on LinkedIn.

The idea is simple, but powerful.   You and your board look at your professional networks and connections on LinkedIn.   Board Connect lets you zero in on the right candidates with the right networks and knowledge for your nonprofit.   You can contact them through LinkedIn and the interface has tools to manage your search.

If you have ever served on a board or if you are an executive director who has had to manage their boards, you know that adding new board members isn’t always an easy process.   Typically,  there is a discussion like “We need someone who has x skill.”   Then everyone goes through their mental Rolodex and that process is repeating.   Then comes the screen process that sometimes can take the skills of an investigative reporter.  Board Connect changes all that.

Using Board Connect on LinkedIn allows you see past first connections on LinkedIn, check out a potential candidate’s knowledge and their connections.    It streamlines the process.  But, if all board members add their networks,  this produces a richer set of potential candidates.  And, remember,  you are not just adding a board member, you are also adding their network.

As part of the board connect program, nonprofits get free access to a Talent Finder account (valued at $1000/annually), an exclusive LinkedIn education webcast (with tools and tips to use the account), and membership to the Board Connect Group on LinkedIn.   You can sign up here.

But don’t be a fool with a tool.  In a recent interview with with Alnoor Ebrahim, associate professor and faculty chair of the “Governing for Nonprofit Excellence” executive program at Harvard Business School, on Forbes online blog, he suggests that nonprofits should be looking for tough love from its board members.  Nonprofits need board members who are willing to take their organization’s leadership to task, to ask tough questions about performance, and to keep the organization focused on mission.  It’s also important that the Senior Management view the board as a place to get critical and unvarnished guidance, to say “Here’s a problem that’s keeping me up at night. Can you help me think through it?”   That’s something that a LinkedIn profile alone won’t necessarily tell you, making the screening process all the more important.

Your organization may also need to educate leadership that this LinkedIn can be a valuable strategic tool for governance, recruiting staff, and connecting with donors.  Here’s some steps.

Here’s my curated list of resources about how Networked Nonprofits Can Use LinkedIn for additional tactics and examples for nonprofits.  Also see this interview with Meg Garlinghouse on Forbes.

Has your organization used LinkedIn to develop its board or part of an organizational networking strategy that leverages professional networks of staff and board?  Share your story in the comments.

 

 

19 Responses

  1. [...] LinkedIn announced Board Connect, resources that helps nonprofits transform themselves into networked nonprofits by finding and recruiting board members using a networked approach.  [...]

  2. I think this is an interesting service for NGOs but I worry it will encourage one of the biggest mistakes nonprofits make with regard to adding board members. And that is treating board service likes its a job and adding new members based solely on their “resume”. As a consultant I’ve worked with hundreds of boards and the strongest network does mean anything if you don’t have someone passionate enough to access it.

    The number one rule of adding board members is to add people that are already demonstrating the behavior you want from a board member. If you want donations, put them on only if they’ve already given to your org. If you want expertise, put them on only if they have provided it.

    The way to get passion and commit from a board member is to involve them before you put them on the board. Use this LinkedIn service to build a pool of volunteers that MIGHT become board members.

  3. Beth says:

    Robert: Not sure if you read my post, but we are in agreement partly .. see the paragraph that starts “Don’t be a fool with a tool, …” It’s the fourth paragraph from the end. The tool makes the finding process easier and more efficient – and leaves more time for the vetting process. And, your suggestion of using the LInkedIn to build up volunteers who might become board members is a great one!

  4. Hi Beth, Yes I read your post. I was commenting more on the service itself then your blog post specifically. A lot of my work is fixing boards that look great on paper but do very little for the nonprofits they serve. But as a volunteer service (as opposed to just a board service) I think this can be a great tool.

    BTW, all of us at here The Osborne Group love your blog, especially your focus on metrics.

  5. Meg Garlinghouse says:

    Thanks Robert. Just wanted to echo Beth – I’m also in total agreement. Not sure you had time to read through the educational materials on nonprofits.linkedin.com but we emphasize the importance of vetting and then educating board members. And, point them to BoardSource for resources. Thanks for your comment!

  6. [...] LinkedIn has introduced Board Connect, a resource that helps nonprofits by finding and recruiting board members using a networked approach.  [...]

  7. [...] LinkedIn has introduced Board Connect, a resource that helps nonprofits by finding and recruiting board members using a networked approach.  [...]

  8. [...] nonprofits can use the tool to leverage your networks with Beth Kanter’s blog post, “Using A Networked Approach To Build Nonprofit Boards: LinkedIn Board Connect Launches“ 41.077025 -85.142437 Rate this:Share this:Like this:LikeBe the first to like [...]

  9. Kathie F says:

    I have great interest in obtaining more information regarding this idea of the networking approach to building non-profit boards. Who do I contact?

  10. [...] LinkedIn has introduced Board Connect, a resource that helps nonprofits by finding and recruiting board members using a networked approach.  [...]

  11. [...] some issues with the new board connect service that I discussed on Beth Kanter’s Blog as comments.  Just because someone looks good on paper doesn’t mean you should put them on your board. [...]

  12. [...] Connect, a premium service offered free to nonprofits to help them search for board members. Both Beth Kantor and Katya Andresen have blogged about [...]

  13. Colette Bert says:

    Thank you very much Robert for validating what I have learned is important in creating a faith-based non-profit board. My biggest fear in creating our board is making the same mistake of other faith-based non-profit boards; members interested in getting more than they can give.

    Thank you for your blog Beth, I’ve learned a lot from your insight. Thank you Meg for the links.

  14. Thanks for the lively discussion about this new resource! I’ve signed up for the overview session that’s happening next week.

    I’ve tried utilizing other online resources, but they didn’t have the connectivity of LinkedIn.

    I appreciated Beth’s post and the subsequent discussion. Beth, let’s have more dialog on how this new resource impacts the process and whether we can see measurable effect demonstrated through online metrics or fundraising.

  15. Beth says:

    Brenda: How would you measure the ROI of the LInkedIN tool? What metrics would you use? I think it would save a lot of time in the research end of finding board members.

  16. [...] for those of you who struggle to recruit great board members, LinkedIn launched Board Connect, which looks amazing. Geri Stengel describes how to make it [...]

  17. [...] LinkedIn announced Board Connect, resources that helps nonprofits transform themselves into networked nonprofits by finding and recruiting board members using a networked approach.  [...]

  18. Joe Kovacs says:

    Beth, have you by chance continued to monitor the success of LinkedIn Board Connect since posting this blog post? I am presenting on LinkedIn at an AICPA conference for nonprofits this June and would like to review how they (i.e. nonprofits) are successfully harnessing this tool to build effective boards. I see Meg Garlinghouse commented on this post, too. I just sent her LinkedIn InMail to ask if she knows what nonprofits I might use as case studies in my presentation. Any assistance or recommendation of resources would be much appreciated. Thanks, Joe