Improving board succession, mentoring

Find volunteers who can relate to current, future members.

October 5, 2021

Board succession and mentoring are challenging.

Historically, board nominating committee members would reach out to friends and colleagues at the sponsoring organization when positions opened, filling seats with people who directly represented the sponsoring organization.

Credit Union Directors Newsletter

That recruitment method doesn’t work as well anymore. Most credit unions have expanded their fields of membership and are struggling to recruit within groups about which they know little. As a result, many credit union boards no longer accurately represent a majority of their membership.

It’s essential to have volunteers who can relate to the financial needs of the current and future membership.

A new direction in succession

Consider these ideas when seeking out new volunteers:

  • Reach out to former scholarship recipients. Many credit unions provide scholarships to high school students. Reach out to those students from five or more years ago. They will have graduated from college and are focused on the next steps of their careers. The opportunity to add board service to their resumes while giving back to an organization that helped them could be attractive.
  • Embrace younger people with a cause. This generation wants to support causes they believe in. They will support you with time and money if they believe in what you’re trying to do. Younger adults tend to be more socially aware than other demographic groups.
  • Approach community organizations. Forming partnerships with organizations in the community creates board recruitment opportunities and strong connections between the credit union and the community partner. It also keeps the board and management apprised of community needs and opportunities.
‘Engaged and reflective representation will improve decision-making and ensure the credit union's products and services remain relevant.’
Scott Butterfield

A word about mentoring

The role of the credit union director carries a lot of responsibility, including the need to understand the basics of credit union financials and regulatory compliance.

However, developing a volunteer requires more than fostering financial acumen.

Mentoring is the key to a higher level of board engagement. Credit unions need boards that are actively engaged in conversation, debate, advocacy, and decision-making. Volunteers won’t be fully engaged if they don’t understand how the organization functions and the rules that govern it. Mentoring assists in overcoming hesitancy to be involved.

Consider assigning a mentor to each new volunteer. The mentoring process should include a clear training and development plan plus support as new volunteers pursue their training path.

Mentoring also should include insights into how the credit union functions and a deeper understanding of the credit union’s issues. Advocacy is critical, so credit union governmental affairs conferences are a great way for the mentor to introduce the new volunteer to their advocacy role.

Plus, mentors can encourage shy volunteers to speak up in meetings or provide guidance on the best way to interact with the board.

An elected board of directors is a strategic advantage, especially when the board actively engages in governing and appropriately reflects the demographics it serves or desires to serve.

Engaged and reflective representation will improve decision-making and ensure the credit union’s products and services remain relevant.

SCOTT BUTTERFIELD is the principal at Your Credit Union Partner.

This article initially appeared in Credit Union Directors Newsletter, which provides strategic insights for policymakers. Subscribe now to the print or PDF version.