One of the most powerful things we do is create authentic connections with people. I believe the second most important thing we do in our nonprofit sector, after the connection has been made, is cause people to take action.
Whether it’s giving time, money, advice, or in-kind support you are often searching for people to do something.
I love this definition of connection I read recently in a book by Brené Brown, “the energy that exists between people when they feel seen, heard, and valued…”
Neuroscience tells us that as human beings we are hard-wired for connection. It’s why we share stories about our day, share pictures of our friends and family, and why we volunteer on boards and committees.
My question for you is: What is the connection your board has to “being on the board” at your organization? What do you do to deepen their connection so they feel great about their board service AND they feel like they are making a difference?
Are they stuck? Do you wish they would do more or different things? Here’s an example of what I mean:
I was recently invited to work with a board and staff at a large multi-service organization. We held a meeting/training session to set some goals and plans for fundraising and communication for 2015. The room was full of passionate, friendly people on a sunny Saturday morning. Joining us were representatives from two advisory boards and one governing board to discuss and draft their action plans.
The prep phone calls with key leadership uncovered a deep feeling of disconnectedness between the advisory boards and the governing board. Staff was looking for action from the board and the board was feeling less than excited about showing up at board meetings that felt the same each time. I observed finger pointing about whose “fault” it is but no real reflection on the WHY.
An hour or so into our training session I decided to name the elephant in the room. I paused and shared what I was observing about the hidden blame conversations. My words were clear, not shaming or blaming. I shared my observation that the advisory boards didn’t know what the expectations and goals are for their role vs. the role of the governing board.
There was a brief moment of deafening silence. And then the conversation started to unfold with thoughtful questions and comments.
What took place was the kind of connection I defined earlier. The energy shifted in the room. People felt seen and heard. We determined the governing board, with input from the advisory boards, would more clearly define board roles so that everyone, staff and board alike, will be on the same page with their expectations.
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Without clear expectations and consequences for lack of accountability, this organization was floundering and having blaming, energy-zapping side conversations. The change that is afoot now is they are truly connecting. I’m proud of the direction they are headed, and look forward to watching their actions unfold that will allow everyone to feel like they are making a difference. Stay-tuned. I’ll keep you posted on their progress.
If this example sounds a bit like your board, join me for my Free Webinar: How to Get Your Board Engaged In Fundraising, Tuesday, November 18, at 11 am Central.