A Community Health Center Board of Directors is unique in its composition and needs. Understanding federal regulations and best practices for finding board members will go a long way toward helping you create an effective and dynamic Board of Directors. The following resources will be useful if you are creating a board from scratch for a New Start health center, and if you are seeking new members for your existing Board of Directors.
Health Center Board Composition Requirements:
- The number of members on your board should be specified in the bylaws of your organization (either a specific number or a range); by law, Health Center Program grantees and look-alikes need nine to 25 board members, representative of the populations served by the health center
- At least 51% of the board members must use the health center as their regular source of health care
- Non-patient board members should be representative of the community served by the health center
- No more than ½ of the non-patient board members may earn more than 10% of their annual income from the health care industry
- No board member may be an employee of the center or the spouse, child, parent, brother, or sister of a health center employee
Exceptions to these regulations may apply in the case of Migrant, Homeless, and Public Housing health centers. Consult the Bureau of Primary Health Care (BPHC) for these exceptions.
For more information about Health Center Program governance regulations, visit these online resources:
Electronic Code of Federal Regulations (e-CFR)
Public Health Regulations Governing Grants for Operating Community Health Centers, Specifically § 51c.304: Governing Board
Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA)
Health Center Program Compliance Manual (August 2017)
National Association of Community Health Centers (NACHC)
Reference document, 06/11:
“So You Want to Start a Health Center: a Practical Guide for Starting a Federally Qualified Health Center”
Before you begin active recruitment:
- Make sure the organization’s by-laws or other internal rules specify a process for selecting board members that represent the populations served by the center (this is required by federal law)
- Make sure the organization has a clear mission; board members that believe in this mission are more likely to energetically support the organization
- Identify the tasks that will be accomplished by the new members
- Identify any specific skills needed by the new members (e.g. advocacy, marketing, finance, law, fundraising, etc.)
- Work with the Chief Executive Officer/Executive Director, applicable board committee, and others to:
- Brainstorm possible sources of new board members (e.g. health center users, local volunteer and membership organizations, colleges and universities, etc.)
- Identify and research possible individuals for recruitment
When recruiting individuals:
- Remember the board composition requirements set forth in your by-laws and in federal regulations
- Keep in mind these preferred board member characteristics:
- Look for someone not too busy, but without too much time on their hands
- Look for people with experience, skill, and expertise in areas that are important to your organization
- Consider people who have served on other Boards of Directors
- Pick independent, thoughtful, and passionate people
- Recruit people who will look to the future (with an understanding of the present) instead of focusing on the past
- If possible, choose people who are ready to contribute financially
- Make your expectations very clear, both verbally and in writing; avoid future surprises by using a Board Member Job Description to illustrate specific needs and duties
- Click HERE for a sample Board Member Job Description.
- Have prospective board members ask themselves these questions:
- Is this the right cause and organization for me?
- Can I work with this agency and this board at this particular stage in its life?
- What can I, and what will I, contribute to this organization?
- What do I want out of being on this board?
Additional Online Board Recruitment Resources:
Agility Executive Search Blog
The Do’s and Don’ts of Recruiting, Developing, and Retaining an Excellent Board of Directors
Board job descriptions, orientation suggestions, community advice, and understanding organizational priorities
Recruiting Board Members
Tools for use in a process of discerning assets and talen gaps on your board, in relation to strategic goals
What Your Nonprofit Board Needs in Three Easy Tables
Connecting non-profit boards and new leaders (free sign up required)
Nonprofits Find a Board Member for Free!
Creating the Future
Recruiting Your Organization’s First Board (Or, if You’ve Already Started, How to Move on to Your Second or “Real” Board)
Recruiting for Board Members: Process? What Process?
What to Ask Every Prospective Board Member
Help 4 NonProfits & Tribes Institute
10 “Stop” Signs on the Road to Board Recruitment
Free complete board toolkit includes numerous board recruitment resources
Recruiting Board Members
List of 10 steps for recruiting new board members
Guidelines for Recruiting New Board Members
Links to six board member job descriptions
Sample Job Descriptions for Members of Boards of Directors
Recruiting and Retaining Board Members