Forming new committees is part of forming a new Board, and effective committees are the secret to an effective Board. But where can you find great committee members in your area, and how can you recruit them?

Your Neighborhood Council’s email list is entirely composed of people who already know and care about your Neighborhood Council, so it’s probably one of the best sources for finding committee members and supporters. You can send a call to action to that list, asking stakeholders to sign up for committees, or become involved with committee businesses by attending committee meetings regularly, and helping with routine tasks. (For example, someone may be too busy to be an official committee member, but they might still sign up to post notices on a committee’s behalf.) Besides increasing committee involvement, an email like this is a great way to remind your stakeholders about when your Neighborhood Council meets and what it does.

You may get the best return on this sort of email if it contains clear “job descriptions,” such as a list of committees and their regular meeting days/times/locations; a brief summary of what each committee does, and a few bullet points about what each committee needs help with. It’s also nice to include a couple words about any big achievements your committees have had in the past.

Organize the incoming data you collect by including a list of what interested stakeholders should put in their responses: their name; phone number; email address; committee they are interested in; role they are interested in; a sentence or two about why they are interested. You can additionally create a form with that sort of list on it, and distribute it to stakeholders at your board meetings, asking them to fill it out and return it at the end of the meeting, if they are interested in participating on one of your committees.  

Another good place to find stakeholders who can contribute their expertise to your committees are the business owners who are part of your local Business Improvement District or Chamber of Commerce. There may be a CPA there, for example, who can help with your Budget & Finance Committee.  You can also outreach to local colleges and universities with programs in urban planning, public policy, law, marketing, architecture, MBAs, or accounting. (With students, make sure that class times are not a routine conflict for attending board or committee meetings.) And you will additionally find stakeholders who are already engaged with community issues in places such as NextDoor, homeowner associations, Neighborhood Watch groups, churches, and local service organizations.