Board Recruitment – Getting started

Are you ready to recruit?

Finding and keeping board members is a vital but demanding task for sports organisations.

Some of your board members may have left or are intending to leave and you may need to think about succession planning. Maybe you feel your board needs reinvigorating as a result of new developments in your sport?

Maybe your board has excellent skills and experience relating to sport which you want to build upon or diversify further?

Board recruitment should be seen as an opportunity to develop or bring in new skills, experiences and perspectives to your governance.

Where your board is a representative board, and your governing document allows election of board members rather than appointment you may still benefit from considering how you reach out to your membership.

Exercises such as looking at the Skills and Experience table (Activity 2) can be used to look at board development and performance.

Board recruitment isn’t just a matter of process its about embedding good governance in your organisation.

In its widest sense, board recruitment doesn’t have to mean new people, it can begin a process of developing your current board members and identifying where the board as a collective feel they need to develop.

Ask yourselves the following questions:

Your board should always be thinking of ways to develop and improve its functions. It is worth reviewing what your organisation is doing currently to support and develop your board.

It can be a useful exercise to review the roles of your current board members, especially if one person is taking on a lot of the work and others would like to take on more responsibility.

As a board member of a sports organisation, you may carry out several ‘roles’– you may volunteer to do things for the organisation involved in the sport, you may also be involved in the delivery of the sporting activity in addition to your board member responsibilities.

Are the activities best carried out by a new board member or could they be done by a volunteer or someone else involved? Is the amount of work reasonable for one person? Is it feasible for someone to join your board from a non-sport background?

You may wish to consider whether your organisation wants (and has constitutional powers) to pay board members for their role, rather than recruiting them as volunteers.  Your organisation needs to think carefully about the consequences of paying board members, both for the organisation and the role and responsibilities of the individual board members.

If you are a registered charity there are specific requirements around the payment of trustees.Further information can be found at the Charity Commission - CC3 Trustee Expenses and Payment.

Before you get started there are a few things you should consider:

Is there anything that would deter people from becoming a board member of your organisation?

Before you get started you may want to consider if there is anything obvious that would deter people from becoming a board member of your organisation. One key issue for many people may be worries about personal liability.

You need to be able to frankly discuss this and let them know about measures such as insurance or incorporation that you have taken to manage this. People may be reluctant to join a board if they feel they are opening themselves up to being personally liable.

You should be prepared to discuss liability with people and how your organisation manages the risk.

See help and resource for further information on managing this process.

Check your governing document

Your governing document is the rulebook for the way your organisation is governed. This should be the first place to look for terms of office, eligibility, procedures for election and so on. Consider how your board members must be appointed.

Do new board members have to be members of your organisation? Do they have to be affiliated to your governing body? Are they representative of regions, clubs or districts?

Are they appointed or do they need to be elected at your AGM? Do you have elections? Or are board members appointed or co-opted? Can they come from outside your membership?

Your governing document will outline how you should recruit board members. You should also consider the role of board members in your organisation and whether they will have significant contact with children or vulnerable groups.

If they have sufficient contact then you may want to check if they are eligible for CRB disclosures and in the future you may need to think about the legal requirements for ISA registration.

For further information on this you can refer to Sport and Recreation Alliance guidance on ISA Registration and CRB disclosures. Please contact our Governance team for further guidance information.

Planning the process

It’s a good idea to plan and schedule the whole process from the outset, as recruiting a new board member usually takes several months and involves a range of people.

Think about the steps, timescales and costs involved in the whole process.

Planning pointers

  • You need to decide what steps you are going to include. Reading through the whole resource will help you prioritise what is necessary and what you may already have in place.
  • You should be clear about who is responsible for what, and what information you will need to have prepared and by when.
  • You may find it helpful to ask one person to oversee and co-ordinate the process.
  • It is useful to have a date in mind  and work backwards. For example if you will be electing at the Annual General Meeting (AGM) when do you need to start the process?