3 Key Strategies to a Successful Board
When I visit with nonprofit leaders—staff and board alike—the need for high performing board members who clearly understand their roles is often the greatest need cited within our field.
Here are three simple ways to ensure board success:
1. Make it personal. If you have the right board, chances are they are pulled in a lot of directions—in their professional life and personal life and, perhaps, on other boards. What does your organization do (particularly your board and staff leadership) to connect with your board members? If one of your board members received a message or email today from you in addition to two other nonprofits that they are involved with, which message would be their top priority?
We are firm that a nonprofit CEO should meet with each board member individually each year. Does your board chair host one or two social events a year for your board members and their spouses?
2. Make it clear. Be sure that each board member clearly understands their role and your expectations, including leadership giving and involvement in fundraising (at least in cultivation and identification of prospective donors). Orient each new member, hopefully as a member of a new board class. Then provide an orientation each year to the full board. Don’t be afraid to coach board members on their role, direction, committee tasks/scope, etc.—you are the professional!
3. Make it fun. This ties in with making it personal. Chances are your board members attend a lot of meetings and even long planning sessions that they want to escape from. Make their board engagement fun. Board meetings should be uplifting, and board members should find their involvement positive and rewarding. Celebrate their involvement and their life by remembering birthdays, anniversaries and children. Many of your board members can probably buy mostly anything that they would like. However, it is the small things, celebrations and fun that can be priceless and keep them engaged!
Looking for Jeff? You'll find him either on the lake, laughing with good friends, or helping nonprofits develop to their full potential.
Jeff believes that successful fundraising is built on a bedrock of relevant, consistent messaging; sound practices; the nurturing of relationships; and impeccable stewardship. And that organizations that adhere to those standards serve as beacons to others that aspire to them. The Bedrocks & Beacons blog will provide strategic information to help nonprofits be both.
Jeff has more than 25 years of nonprofit leadership experience and is a member of the NonProfit PRO Editorial Advisory Board.