Energizing Your Board

Bob Cryer

Bob Cryer

The board of a nonprofit organization can be a powerful resource. But many boards are insufficiently connected to the work of the nonprofit. What can nonprofit leaders do to create a deeper and richer relationship with their boards? Jeffrey Walker and Jennifer McCrea wrote an article for the blog of the Stanford Social Innovation Review, titled “Transforming Board Members into Energized Partners”, that does a great job of addressing this issue.

“First, create opportunities for open dialogue with individual board members about their interests, needs, desires, and resources. Too many nonprofit leaders fall into the habit of thinking of their board members as an undifferentiated mass rather than as the unique—often fascinating—individuals they are. You can break this habit and enrich your connections with the board by investing time in open, informal conversation with them. The purpose is to explore the answers to such questions as: How did you originally become interested in the work of our organization? What are the passions that motivate your participation in our work? What is your long-term vision for the future of our organization? The point of the discussion is simply for the participants to appreciate one another for the interesting and complex human beings that they are.”

“Second, within the context of individual interests and passions, set goals for board members—and make them personalized and explicit. Schedule an annual one-on-one conversation with each board member that resembles the performance review that most business managers conduct. The other party to the discussion might be the board chairman or some other representative of the board—for example, the chairman of the membership committee. Focus on how the individual board member can express his unique interests through specific activities. Useful questions might include: What forms of involvement and support would you like to contribute to the organization in the coming year? What projects would you like to undertake? What could we do to make board membership more interesting and rewarding for you?”

“By the end of the conversation, participants should agree on a specific list of goals—including a financial goal that represents funds the board member will personally donate, raise from acquaintances, or both.”

Click here to read the authors entire article. http://www.ssireview.org/blog/entry/transforming_board_members_into_energized_partners#%21.

Author:  Bob Cryer, Executive Coaches of Orange County, www.ECofOC.org