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The BoardLead Application Guide for Nonprofits

This guide is designed to support your BoardLead application process by offering useful tips and insights from our team on what makes a compelling application.
byErin M. ConnellonFebruary 14, 2023

We look forward to getting to know you, your organization, and your board’s recruitment needs through BoardLead. This guide is designed to support your application planning process by offering useful tips and insights from our team on what makes a compelling application.

The BoardLead nonprofit application features six sections which help us learn more about your organization, board, and what you’re seeking in future governing and/or young professional board candidates. You are not required to complete this application in one sitting; each field will display a green check mark to indicate when the response has been successfully saved.

  1. Information about your Organization

  2. Board Leadership

  3. Your interest in BoardLead

  4. Time & Financial/Fundraising Commitment

  5. Financial Questions

  6. File Upload

The BoardLead application allows nonprofits to apply to recruit candidates for both your governing board and young professionals board in the same application.


After receiving thousands of nonprofit applications, our team has reflected on some criteria that make successful organizations stand out in the process. We’ve pulled together a list of recommendations for you and your board to consider as you complete your application to BoardLead.

Below are the vetting criteria our team uses to identify nonprofits that are a strong fit for BoardLead:

  • Impact of Mission & Programs: Competitive organizations for BoardLead demonstrate a track-record of measurable success in advancing their mission - and how the board plays a role in this.

  • Solid Organization and Board Structure: Organizations that have a well established board structure and policies to support it are highly attractive to our candidates who are often first-time board members.

  • Demonstrated Need for Board Development: Our process is designed to help you meet your gaps, but it is important for us to have a clear understanding of what those gaps are and how the board looks at the big picture of recruitment, retention, and culture-building.

  • Attainable Give & Give/Get Expectations: BoardLead sets a maximum give/get for participating organizations and we strive to build a cohort of organizations representing a variety of give/get levels.

  • Financial Stability: BoardLead seeks organizations demonstrating year over year financial strength and stability.

  • Commitment to Diversity, Equity and Inclusion: We share the values of diversity, equity, and inclusion with our nonprofit partners and strive to ensure that the organizations we accept into BoardLead also do the same.

  • Seek candidates who align with the typical BoardLeader profile: Our BoardLeaders are typically skilled, mid-career professionals who represent a variety of backgrounds. If this sounds like your next board member, BoardLead may be for you!

The strongest nonprofit applications tend to:

  • Show that your board has considered its gaps, especially in bringing the community into the board room

  • Demonstrate the board’s commitment to advancing diversity, equity, and inclusion

  • Communicate a balanced understanding of a board member’s role beyond fundraising

We encourage nonprofits to revisit applications that:

  • Focus too much on sharing your mission & programs. Instead, focus the application mostly on the work of the board.

  • List DEI efforts as inherent in a nonprofit’s work due to your mission. We want to know what specific things your board is doing to advance a commitment to these values.

  • See board service as only giving of one’s treasure. Organizations that present a well-rounded board service experience are the strongest fits for BoardLead.


There are a few key application questions we encourage nonprofits to be particularly thoughtful about. Those are our questions about a nonprofit’s optimal candidate, about a nonprofit’s DEI commitment, and about the nonprofit’s pitch.

When sharing about a nonprofit’s optimal board candidate, we encourage nonprofits to:

  • Speak to the connection to the organization’s mission

  • Articulate specific professional skills or backgrounds that they’re looking for in candidates

  • Not focus exclusively on fundraising or request specific candidate identity(s)

  • Make reference to expectations and ways they hope their new board member will plug into their work

When sharing about their DEI commitments and efforts, we encourage nonprofits to:

  • Recognize the value of having a board that reflects the community that an organization serves

  • Take responsibility for recruiting individuals who add to the board's diversity

  • Seek to create an inclusive and equitable environment on the board

  • Please note that an organization doesn’t necessarily need to have successfully integrated DEI practices into the work of their board in order to apply; a commitment to these values is what we’re looking for

When sharing their pitch to candidates who may be interested in their board seat, we encourage nonprofits to:

  • Be clear, concise, and include an emotional call to action

  • Use language directed at candidates who are interested in their specific cause area


Finally, here are a few tips for navigating our application platform,

  • Nonprofits must submit the application online and list one account contact who can log into and access that application.

  • An offline version of the application is available as a PDF upon logging in

  • Each field will autosave with a "green checkmark" when complete.

  • Submit a compelling photo of your nonprofit in action for your organization’s profile. We find that square photos work best!

  • If you have applied to BoardLead before, we have made this process even easier! You can access and edit your previous application information on

If you have any questions during the application process, or want to learn more about BoardLead, we invite you to review the BoardLead FAQs for nonprofit partners and reach out to our team for support at