Time and time again, stressed nonprofit leaders ask for ways to reenergize their board. There’s no doubt about it - a committed nonprofit board of directors can catapult an agency forward, while a disengaged board can… well, we’ve all heard (or lived!) the horror stories. Here’s five tips to try if your board could use some spark:
1. Put it in writing
I know you have a great orientation for new board members that is so thorough that there is no doubt in their mind about your expectations of them. I hate to tell you this, but that was a year ago and since then your board member has changed jobs, adopted a baby and a dog, and found moles in their yard. They may not be thinking about your organization much. A written job description or other document that outlines board member expectations gives your board chair something to fall back on if a discussion about director performance ever needs to be had.
2. Feed their ego
They were asked to join your board because there is something awesome about them, right? That quality is still there, it’s just preoccupied. When was the last time you reminded them that there are things your organization needs that only they can do? They joined your board because they love your mission. Use their skills and make sure they know how vital they are to your good work.
3. Mission moments
What has made you proud recently? Did your staff get public kudos? Did a person you serve reach a milestone? Did your baby goat rescue save a record number of baby goats? Make sure your board knows about it! You don’t have to wait for a board meeting. A quick email to share your good news will generate warm fuzzies AND remind them that there was something they were supposed to do before the next meeting.
Look at your board meetings. Are you spending all your time on financials and other day to day matters? Take some time to dream. Your board is uniquely positioned to help you explore what your agency can do and be 5, 10, 20 years into the future because they aren’t mired in the day to day. I’m not talking about strategic planning, I’m talking about developing a shared overall vision for the future that gets people excited. What will your agency, your community, or the world look like when you fulfill your mission? Your board can’t help but get excited about that.
5. Plan a play date
The relationships between board members is as important as any other work of your board. Board members don’t need to be best friends, but professional friendships among board members leads to greater accountability to each other, and therefore better results for your organization. Get out of the board room and have some fun together!
Does your board need help? Your NAM membership gets you discounted rates for Board Masters training and access to BoardSource. Contact Rosey for more information.