Getting Board Members to Give
7. The ability to get their hands dirty
We often think that board members are too busy, too smart or too sophisticated to want to actually get down in the trenches, but my research found just the opposite to be true. The most satisfying experiences I've heard were from board members who are invited to share their for-profit skill sets, but also encouraged them to try new things, experiment and, yes, get their hands dirty.
8. Meaningful education
If you ever want to see a board member cross her arms and say, "Harumph," mention the word "training." As a trainer by nature, I try not to take this too personally, but I realized one thing about those I interviewed: Their brains are full. It's not that they don't want to learn anything new - just the contrary. They want targeted education that enhances their current skill sets, not a clever workshop on the next big thing.
9. Great board experience leads to increased desire to contribute
The final truth in my findings is also the result of a perfectly aligned organization: A great board experience will inevitably lead to an increased desire to contribute. That is, when all these truths are actively pursued, when attention is paid to creating a dynamic, engaging environment in which the board operates, nonprofits will be rewarded by boards that contribute their brain power, their experience, their networks and ultimately their financial support as well.
For nonprofits that are able to implement these easy-to-say, hard-to-execute elements, the reward is great: alignment, the perfect harmony between what the organization needs to succeed and what the board members want to thrive.
June Bradham is the founder and president of Corporate DevelopMint, a strategic fundraising consulting firm with more than 20 years of service to the nonprofit community. Her first book, "The Truth About What Nonprofit Boards Want: Nine Little Things That Matter Most," was released by Wiley & Sons in May 2009. June, and the Corporate DevelopMint consultants, are available for retreats and interactive workshops which use groundbreaking survey instruments to help get leadership and board members into alignment.