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How to Get Them to Stop  “Sitting There Like Bumps on a Log”

I’m sure your nonprofit has a great mission and a story that's endearing and in need of being shared with the masses. Does your board feel the same way you do?

The fact is that enthusiastic board members are worth a great deal!

Here are 3 factors we stress with leaders of nonprofits when we speak with them about engaging their boards:

  1. Get them excited, even passionate about your core values. This will have a trickle-down effect on others. One way to ensure this is to recruit people that have passion and then let them know what the expectations are – up-front, in terms of time commitment, fundraising responsibilities, attendance at events and, of course, board meetings. You can better connect your board members with your mission when you

  • establish custom mission plans for each board member by giving them individual guidance that will help them relate to your cause on a personal level.

  • provide them with hands-on experience at events and fundraisers because the more involved they are, the better they’ll understand the importance of what you do.

  • conduct re-evaluations every 6 months or so for the purpose of re-engaging and realigning the board with their responsibilities and purpose.

  1. Stress communication across all departments.

  • transparency breeds trustworthiness – be honest with your board members about what you expect and their performance; make data accessible to them if they need it.

  • Promote involvement – challenge them to be more involved; if they feel they are important and an asset, they will involve themselves more.

  • Here are your responsibilities – Clearly and unambiguously communicate responsibilities – it will help to avoid confusion and give them a path to success.

  • Meet regularly for “organizational update” time –these updates should be about goals, events, processes, etc. Make sure everyone is connected to these updates.

  1. Take advantage of their skills and expertise –

  • Let your board members shine; have them showcase their strengths –this will help them excel.

  • Encourage creativity during meetings by inspiring your board members to share thoughts and ideas.

  • Make sure their duties line up with their strengths.

  • Offer training sessions and professional development opportunities to expand knowledge (especially in the area of fundraising). Don’t forget, board members can and should be your most valuable asset. When you commit to them, you’re helping them pursue their personal and professional interests at the same time they’re helping you.

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