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Four Types of Board Members - And Why to Recruit Each, Pt. 2

MALF is pleased to present this two-part miniseries on Friends leadership recruitment, adapted with permission from a piece originally prepared by and for Library Strategies, our office management firm. We've heard from you, our members, that this is a topic of great and increasing importance.

Click here (Part I) to learn about our first two psychographic profiles: so-called "Curtain Raisers" and "Friend Raisers."

3) Barn Raisers. Amish communities across America maintain the age-old tradition of “barn raising,” where families come together and pool their time and tools to erect a barn in the span of a day. You probably don’t have much use for a barn, but the basic principles hold true: little can get done without “elbow grease,” but many hands make for light work.

Barn Raisers are crucial to Friends and Foundations, particularly those with no paid staff to handle the “brunt” of on-the-ground duties. For instance, no book sale will get off the ground without organizers willing to sort books and coordinate volunteer shifts, and no author event can occur without a point person to oversee logistics.

If your board of directors is light on Barn Raisers, reconsider your nomination criteria with this need in mind. The archetypal “Friend Raiser” may have the influence to drive others to your functions, and “Curtain Raisers” the affluence to drive large donations based on their own charitable example. But, in addition to influence and affluence, consider work ethic and leadership interest when seeking and vetting candidates.

4) Consciousness Raisers. Ultimately, all your directors’ collective efforts are intended to better the library, and no public library can get by on private funding alone. For this reason – though this one may not roll off the tongue like the other three – Consciousness Raisers are arguably the most valuable psychographic profile of all.

Consciousness Raisers bring the knowledge and gumption required to lobby for the library’s continued public funding in public forums, and spearhead grassroots advocacy efforts within your community.

Dividends may not be immediate, but depending on a given director’s skill set, an hour spent in candid conversation at the office of your county commissioner might be exponentially more valuable to your cause than an hour spent directly soliciting private donations.

Remember, advocacy is essential everywhere. If you live in a small community or represent a budding nonprofit, you may be tempted to concentrate overmuch on recruiting Barn Raisers and Friend Raisers… and give Consciousness Raisers short shrift. Don’t! We know of many instances where a corps of activism-minded directors made a major impact on a small community’s public library funding levels.

Naturally, these four psychographic profiles are not mutually exclusive. In practice, for example, a Consciousness Raiser with a knack for public advocacy might also have a grassroots network they can tap as Barn Raisers or Friend Raisers. However, conceptualizing your leaders’ (and prospective leaders’) characteristics in this way will help ensure that you maintain a balanced board of directors.