Who Should Be on the Search Committee?

We asked grantmakers and search firm representatives about composing an effective executive search committee. They recommended these guidelines:

Definitely include ...

  • A capable and widely respected search committee chair
  • A mix of current and future leaders of the board
  • Board executive committee members
  • Board members who increase the committee's ability to look widely for qualified candidates, within and beyond the usual networks

Perhaps include ...

  • A senior staff person. An uncommon practice, advisable only if staff participation will not constrain board participation and with the understanding that staff members will not participate in all discussions and that confidentiality must be maintained (regarding, for example, applicants' references).
  • A funder. Also uncommon, advisable only when a funder has a long-standing relationship with an organization, does not hinder honest communication, and is asked to join; or, when an organization in which a funder is deeply invested is coming undone and, again, the funder is asked to join.

Definitely do not include ...

  • The outgoing CEO. Instead, invite the outgoing CEO to offer input on potential sources of candidates, challenges facing the organization, and skills that would be valuable in a new CEO - including skills different from their own.

Takeaways are critical, bite-sized resources either excerpted from our guides or written by Candid Learning for Funders using the guide's research data or themes post-publication. Attribution is given if the takeaway is a quotation.

This takeaway was derived from Executive Transitions.