As a nonprofit leader, how do you keep board members engaged and excited about advancing the mission of your organization?
First of all, board members provide amazing value to nonprofits through board service. That is to say, they are often savvy business men and women well-intentioned to utilize their skills and make meaningful contributions through service. But that does not always happen.
I met with a board member who explained that when he gets involved with a nonprofit, it’s not in a small charitable way. He gets passionate about “his” nonprofits. In other words, he is an active member, positively contributing, and making things happen. If he does not believe he can make a difference by serving on the board, he will decline from serving or eventually resign from the board.
Unfortunately at the moment, he is an unhappy board member and contemplating turning in his resignation. He does not feel he is contributing and a part of the board .
How do we prevent this from happening?
Exercises for Board Members at Meetings or Retreats
To keep your board members engaged and energized about board service, here are three exercises to use at a board meeting or retreat to reconnect board members to the mission.
1. Inquire Why Board Members Serve
First, ask each board member to state in ten words or less why he/she serves on the board.
This is not a quiz! It is an opportunity for board members to reconnect with the reason they agreed to serve on the board. They may have forgotten.
Most importantly, it recharges board members.
Do this at the beginning of a meeting to focus people on why they showed up today for the meeting.
2. Seek Meaningful Stories of Impact
Also, have each board member share a meaningful success story of the nonprofit’s impact. When board members hear other board members share their passion, they are reminded of all the ways the organization is making a difference.
3. Capture Board Members’ Passion
Last, request board members to submit an article that captures why they believe in the organization. Ask them how they have witnessed the impact of “their” organization. Use their messages in your newsletters, solicitation pieces, on your website, or on social media.
Additionally, ask them to share their story publicly or on donor visits.
Repurpose their story to get their message in front of the right people – those who could get behind your mission.
Undoubtedly, you are igniting their passion for board service!
In conclusion, you want to utilize board members for their service, keep them enthusiastic, and remind them they are a part of something larger than themselves.
These exercises help board members better articulate the impact of the organization’s work in their own words. When they do this, they are reminded of why they serve. Moreover, this is their elevator speech.
Because of these conversations, you have a better idea of why each board member is serving on the board. As a result, you could follow up with each one to discover how he/she wants to serve in more specific ways.
Above all, you are building a culture of passion. It starts with the most passionate board members. They will stand out in a meeting and perpetuate conversations to advance the mission.
And finally, you have set the stage to next engage board member in the donor giving process. See 6 Ways for Board Members to Support Fundraising Without Asking for Money.
Question: How do you engage your board members and tap into their passion?
Nancy Rieves, Ed.D. is a fundraising coach. She provides executive and development directors with a roadmap to maximize and sustain major gift fundraising. She prepares leaders to be confident and successful in raising money. Reach her at [email protected].
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