Encouraging Board Accountability
Annual board meetings may seem like a drag until there is something the board can be excited about, like new initiatives in the organization or a fundraising campaign. That’s when each member seems to be on the same page, willing to carry their own weight and volunteer to complete specific tasks during and after meetings.
However, it’s common for this excitement to subside. Before you know it, next year has arrived and the tasks you planned to have completed are unfinished and abandoned. A lack of follow-through may be frustrating, but it’s a common problem for many boards.
The solution could be to adopt more accountability measures in hopes of motivating everyone to complete the tasks they initially agreed to finish. To increase board engagement and keep members accountable, follow these tips:
Craft a Written Plan
While minutes from the meeting are usually written down and available to members, they can also be used as follow-ups of what each member has committed to completing. Board members can benefit from a simple overview of who’s in charge of what and the actionable items to complete before the next meeting. If the task needs significant work, also include the timeframe, that way everyone is on the same page.
After the meeting, a written plan should be sent in a follow-up email to all members. In this email, thank everyone for attending and remind them of what they agreed to do. Board members are busy people, and they might forget what was discussed in the meeting by the time they get home. Follow-up on tasks and deadlines to ensure those details are not lost after the meeting and that board members can account for them on their personal calendars.
Don’t Make It Difficult
If a task requires your board members to send an email to their contacts, it’s beneficial to provide a template they can quickly use. While the template should include all necessary information, members can add their personal touch to it to keep their voice and communication consistent. When board members feel a task is difficult and tedious, they are less likely to follow through. By giving them ready-made materials, you can assist board members with their tasks and help increase their productivity.
Keep in Touch With Your Members
Sending a follow-up email is recommended, but communication after the meeting should not stop there. Adding reminders to your calendar to touch base with board members is an effective way to maintain board accountability. Your messages should include a quick hello and a reminder about the plan. Board members can flag upcoming due dates or meetings and prevent procrastination on tasks, especially if they forgot about them. Not only will this hold members accountable, but it can also increase engagement.
By taking the initiative to touch base with board members, accountability and engagement can be improved. Since most board members are immersed in their own busy lives, these simple communication practices can prevent stress and unfinished or late assignments. While it may seem annoying to remind people of the tasks they should be completing, your board members will appreciate the chance to connect and help.
Jeb Banner is the founder and CEO of Boardable, a nonprofit board management software provider. He is also the founder of two nonprofits, The Speak Easy and Musical Family Tree, as well as a board member of United Way Central Indiana and ProAct. Jeb is based in Indianapolis, Ind.
Boardable is an online board management portal that centralizes communication, document storage, meeting planning and everything else that goes into running a board of directors.