"Raising" Your Board
An important part of a business is planning for the future, and the easiest way for you to show your board that you are a business is to create documents that teach your board how “a business” works and still maintain the voice and spirit that your board established when your institution was just an idea.
Five-year business plans, SWOT charts, long-range calendars and segmented marketing campaigns are all extensions of the processes that they have been doing for years. Be mindful that these might be new documents for them, and present them in a way that is easiest for them to absorb and understand. In an art and music school, for example, I engage the artists through graphs and the musicians by going over the material verbally.
After seeing how next month’s fundraiser can affect the outreach program that currently is in the planning stages, it’s easier for board members to understand that they are governing a business that will serve its community long after your current staff and board have cycled out.
Talking the talk of a community business
Many of your board members might not have ever been concerned with the finances of your institution; they might have been more concerned with what color feathers are used in an art project than whether or not the annual gala should be moved up two weeks to cover payroll. It’s important to keep your board in the habit of talking to their lead fundraiser.
Communication between the development office and the board is vital for them to understand how you, and the rest of the world, works and thinks. Furthermore, your board might have only given a certain amount of time in their schedule for their board duties. You have to gradually let them know that they will be expected to spend more time with you.