Criteria for the Nominating Committee’s Pipeline

By John Pearson

Good news! I observed a board meeting recently—and the nominating committee invited board members to suggest names for their “prospect pipeline.”

Bad news! I observed a board meeting recently—and the nominating committee invited board members to suggest names for their “prospect pipeline.”

More bad news! In the absence of agreed-upon criteria, suggestions will quickly descend into the sub-basement of nominating dysfunction. “I’d like to nominate Jennifer. She’s a friend of a friend of my Cousin Eddie—and she’s wealthy.”

The solution? Before you begin “dating” a board prospect (plan on a 12-month to 36-month process), discern the criteria you’ll use to evaluate a prospect’s suitability as an effective steward of your ministry.

Begin with the “6Ds Criteria” listed in the ECFA Governance Toolbox Series No. 1: Recruiting Board Members—Leveraging the 4 Phases of Board Recruitment. (Click here to order from ECFA.)

The 6 Ds include:
Discerning Decision-Maker
Demonstrated Passion
Documented Team Player
Diligent and Faithful Participant
Doer (walks the talk)
Donor (see Matthew 6:21)

As you discern your board’s unique culture, you’ll want your pipeline criteria to reflect your unique DNA. For example, at a recent board meeting (the one board I serve on), I suggested we add three “virtues” to our list of board prospect criteria.

“Humble, Hungry, and People Smart” are the three attributes described in Patrick Lencioni’s latest business fable, The Ideal Team Player: How to Recognize and Cultivate the Three Essential Virtues. While the book is directed to teams in the workplace, the three virtues are no-brainer qualities we want in future board members.
Here are my “board edits” from Lencioni’s definitions:

HUMBLE: Great board members lack excessive ego or concerns about status. Humility is the single greatest and most indispensable attribute of being a board member. (And I’d add several more lines from Andrew Murray’s book, Humility.)

“Humility is the only soil in which the graces root; the lack of humility is the sufficient explanation of every defect and failure.”

“Humility is not so much a grace or virtue along with others; it is the root of all, because it alone takes the right attitude before God,
and allows Him as God to do all.”

HUNGRY: Hungry board members almost never have to be pushed by the board chair to work harder because they are self-motivated and diligent.

SMART: Smart simply refers to a board member's common sense about people (other board members, the CEO, staff, volunteers, donors, and our customers/clients).

So…how about generating some good news at your next board meeting? “Our nominating committee suggests the following criteria for future board members. To recommend a candidate, please complete the ‘Board Member Suggestion Form’ to discern if that person meets our agreed-upon criteria.”

QUESTIONS: What criteria should be added when suggesting names for your board prospect pipeline? Is “humble” on your list?


This article was originally posted on the “Governance of Christ-Centered Organizations” blog, hosted by ECFA.
John Pearson, a board governance consultant and author, was ECFA’s governance blogger from 2011 to 2020.
© 2021, ECFA and John Pearson. All rights reserved.


This text is provided with the understanding that ECFA is not rendering legal, accounting, or other professional advice or service. Professional advice on specific issues should be sought from an accountant, lawyer, or other professional.