Developing a process for recruiting new board members has become a priority for many credit unions as they serve more diverse membership bases, take on more significant roles in their community and look for new ideas to keep moving the organization forward. In a recent Callahan webinar, “Best Practices within the Credit Union System for Evolving Your Board,” Gene Blanc, a Board member with Pacific Service Credit Union ($1.1B, Walnut Creek, CA) discussed their efforts to recruit new potential board members. The credit union views these efforts as an essential part of the organization’s ongoing development.
Pacific Service established an Advisory Director position in 2003 that serves as a sort of training ground for new potential board members. An Advisory Director is required to attend monthly board meetings and the credit union’s annual planning session, attend the credit union’s orientation program, and complete CUNA’s Volunteer Achievement Program. The position provides the individual with exposure to the commitment needed to be a regular Board member so that they can determine whether it is a position they want to pursue. It also allows both the Advisory Director and the sitting Board to get a feel for the fit of the individual with the organization and the existing Board members.
The Recruiting Process
Pacific Service has used a few methods to identify potential candidates for the Advisory Director role. The credit union initially targeted community leaders who would be a recognized name on the board. They found, however, that the existing commitments these individuals already have can limit their effectiveness as a credit union board member. The credit union has since pursued a more visible recruitment effort by posting a notice on their website that describes the role and allows members to submit an online application. Pacific Service has also sent letters to members to solicit interest in the position, typically by targeting members in a range of demographics who have been active members of the credit union for a minimum period of time. Just as on the website, the letters highlight the responsibility, commitment and “what’s in it for them.”
The credit union has found a couple of key issues to address with potential Board members, including:
Availability for meetings
Familiarity with Pacific Service
Their motivation for being a credit union Board member
How their participation as a volunteer can be a win/win for both them and the credit union
The Board is actively involved in the recruiting and interviewing process for potential Advisory Directors. Once a candidate is identified, the Nominating Committee of the Board interviews the individual. If the interview goes well, the Committee proposes the appointment of the person as an Advisory Director to the full Board. After the appointment is made, if a vacancy occurs on the Board, the other directors will discuss and select from the sitting Advisory Directors to fill the vacancy.
Since the program began in 2003 Pacific Service has recruited 8 Advisory Directors, half of whom have progressed to full Board positions. In fact, nearly half of the current Board members began as Advisory Directors. The process has helped Pacific Service to develop a diversified Board that includes representatives from different SEGs and geographic locations, a mix of ethnicities and ages, and women comprising one-third of the directors. The results demonstrate the importance of an effective recruitment process in continuing the success and vitality of credit unions.