A common question that I often get asked from nonprofit organizations that I meet with is "How do we engage our board members?" Having a board that is actively engaged and dedicated to your organizations' mission, vision and fund development is essential for lasting success.
Here are five tips for getting better engagement from your board members so that your organization can reap the benefits.
1. Lead In- If anyone knows the importance of accomplishing the mission and vision of your organization, its YOU! Therefore, you need to be able to "lead in" when it comes to your board. By that I mean you need to be able to be able to inspire, motivate and fire- up your board to accomplish what needs to be done. Imagine sitting in a board meeting and trying to explain to your board the importance of bringing on a new development staff member. If you can't get them "on board" with your need or excited about whatever your cause is, how can you expect them as a board member to be engaged. Take the LEAD and create an environment of success and they will follow.
2. Teamwork Makes the Dream Work- Your board needs to know that they are not in this alone. Work on developing a "team" environment. This means working with your board chair on quarterly board retreats, board outings/get-together's and board updates. People are more engaged and work better with people they can trust and vibe with.
3. Strengths/Weaknesses- When you want to engage your board members, focus on their strengths (not their weaknesses). Example: Let's say that you have a board members that is is pro at marketing and communications. Focus on that and ask them to lead a board committee that will focus on creating strategies that will help your organization gain higher visibility with donors. Learn what each board member can offer and allow them to use their gifts to move your organization forward.
4. Time's A Wasting- One of the worse things you can do (especially if you have great board members) is to waste your board members time. That means, don't schedule unnecessary meetings, don't overbook them with events that they don't need to attend. Remember your board members are doing this voluntarily because they are passionate about your cause, therefore make sure that you're not wasting time that can be used elsewhere. Quality always over quantity.
5. Reassess and Rebuild- Sometimes you just have to reassess your board and determine if you need to rebuild. One of the things that often happens when you first start a nonprofit organization is that you build a board of convenience. It's convenient for you to have "so and so" on your board because you need to get things moving, but as you continue to grow your board needs to grow with you and you need to develop a board that your organization needs to move pass the starting point. In order to do this, you need to meet with your board chair and reassess who is adding value and who is bringing your board down. Look at who is actively engaged, who is attending meetings and helping with funding. Those are who you want to keep on your board, because they can engage other board members and get them "on board".
Remember that having a board that is ready and willing to go the distance will be extremely helpful as your organization grows and develops into its own, Make sure you are taking the time to properly invest in ways to take the boredom out and leave your board ready to get your mission accomplished!