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Are You Boring Your Board?

By February 18, 2009March 30th, 2014Engaging Your Board, Withisms

The theme I’ve been hearing from staff in the social profit community is that they are frustrated with the lack of enthusiasm their board of directors has for fundraising. Today Randy told me that his board members don’t attend meetings, or special events when invited. And when I spoke with Carol yesterday she made a point to let me know that her board members won’t make phone calls or invite others to events. If I believed everything I’ve heard lately, there are no good board members out there.

The interesting thing is, I’ve also spoken to and worked alongside many board members from these same organizations and found that they are very committed to the organization and really want to help in effective ways.

So what’s going on? When I dug in deeper and asked Lenny what he’d like to do as a board member that would help with fundraising, he said “I’ll invite my friends to something that’s interesting and where they feel comfortable. The events I’ve attended recently at our organization are so long even I get bored. I won’t invite my friends to something that is a waste of their time. And our meetings, don’t get me started about those. I could phone in my votes and not lose a whole evening at home. We just go through the same agenda items meeting after meeting.”

Moral to the story here — even your board and volunteers need to be inspired. Are you inspiring people at your events by sharing stories and powerful examples of how the work is making a difference? Or is the event filled with lots of talking about statistics and information that is not emotionally connecting? If your board is bored with your events or your meetings spice it up and get them re-engaged.

Two great strategies for meetings:

  1. At the next board meeting or committee meeting, take 5 minutes out of the agenda and tell everyone we are going to “connect with our donors now so please get out your cell phones.” Hand each board member a piece of paper with the name and phone number of a donor who has made a contribution recently who has not yet received a thank you phone call. Have everyone make their calls quickly — leaving voice mail messages of thanks if no one answers. And then continue on with your meeting.
  2. Have someone, not staff, share a short story about one of your clients/consumers/volunteers. Ask them to tell a short example of why they know your work makes a difference, using names and ages. Remind the “chosen” storyteller before the meeting that they’ll need to have a short story example and suggest they call one of your staff to learn an example if they don’t have one of their own.

Recently I’ve been doing both of these at all meetings that have volunteers present and there is a magical change to the chemistry of the meeting. No one leaves board. In fact some wonderful conversations have happened and people have offered to do more of what ever was needed!

Try one of these ideas or one of your own and let me know how it goes.

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