Are Your Board Members Bored? How to Inspire, Excite and Direct Your Board to Success
My goodness, I’ve been to so many major gift meetings with nonprofits lately that tell me their board meetings are a complete drag. “It’s like we’re all just going through the motions, and no one really wants to be there,” one development professional told me. “Why are we even meeting? Nothing seems to get done anyway … we’re languishing.”
Any of this sound familiar to you?
I hope not, but I’m afraid it’s pervasive in the nonprofit community. In the best of worlds, your board members are your biggest advocates, strongest financial supporters and connectors to others. There is almost nothing more amazing than seeing a board that is on fire! But it’s deadly if your board is … well … bored.
If your board needs a spark, a stoking of the embers to get the fire roaring again, I have some ideas for you. They come under the headings of inspiring, exciting and directing your board. If you can do these three things with your board of directors, good things will come to your major gift program and organization.
When in “recruiting mode” for board members, many nonprofits do a really nice job of inspiring potential board members with their mission. They tell great stories; they give the board members tours; they let recruits see firsthand how the organization is making a difference.
However, when the board member signs on, something changes. No one hears stories of lives or situations changing anymore. Instead of seeing the good work of the organization firsthand, now all of a sudden board members are buried in financial spreadsheets and by-laws.
Yuck! Get me out of there.
Those things are important, but have you considered adding this into the agenda to keep the fire burning?:
- Start each board meeting with a heart-touching video or story that could only happen because of your organization.
- Bring in people who have been affected by your organization to tell their stories firsthand. There will not be a dry eye around that large boardroom table. For example, if your organization works with young children, bring someone in who has “graduated” from your organization and is now leading a productive life. No one in that room will leave unaffected.
- Bring a program person in to tell board members what it’s like on the frontlines and have that program person tell the board why they are so desperately needed.
- Bring in the development director to tell a great story of a donor—how the donor’s life has been changed through their giving. This will lead to so many great questions from board members.
Jeff Schreifels is the principal owner of Veritus Group — an agency that partners with nonprofits to create, build and manage mid-level fundraising, major gifts and planned giving programs. In his 32-plus year career, Jeff has worked with hundreds of nonprofits, helping to raise more than $400 million in revenue.