If we could only get our Board to… fill in the blank: help fund raise, read their emails, make connections, etc.
Phrases like these are expressed by non-profit executives and development professionals in organizations large and small, emerging and established and in every sector of the philanthropic community. By and large we all wish that, on some level, we could get our Boards more actively engaged.
That is why when development strategies are being planned, it is common for staff to focus on what the Board members need to do for those plans to succeed. And, just to be clear, successful non-profits definitely have actively engaged Board members who are instrumental in executing their resource development plans.
What if, however, instead of providing our most important volunteers and ambassadors with a laundry list of expectations, we spent an equal amount of time strategizing how we, as staff, are going to actively support them in their efforts? What if we focused on how best to complement their efforts and on making it a priority to help our Board members be successful?
The truth is our Board members and other key volunteers need and are absolutely entitled to our support. Staff must offer whatever training/coaching, structure and even cheerleading that might be needed by the people we are asking to help advance the Organization’s goals.
- Do we have a meaningful onboarding process for new Board members?
- Have we taken the time to work with our Board members so they are comfortable talking about the organization in their own words?
- If we are not sure what our Board members need from us, have we made it a point to sit down with them and ask how we can help make their service on the Board more meaningful?
However you chose to increase the level of support you offer your Board, there is no doubt it will lead to the desired higher level of engagement and, as an added bonus, it will also lead to a deeper relationship with some of our most important partners.
David Gee is a non-profit professional with a particular expertise in capital campaigns, major gifts and donor stewardship. David joined the Laurus Strategies team as a Senior Consultant after serving as The Chicago Bar Foundation’s Director of Development for over seven years. Prior to that, he spent 18 years working as a professional actor in Chicago. Among his volunteer activities, David currently serves on the Donors Forum’s Resource Development Committee and the Cara Program’s Major Gift Committee.
Headquartered in Chicago, Laurus Strategies has a passion for helping nonprofits advance their mission. Laurus Strategies’ Non Profit and Public Affairs Consulting Group provides a wide range of fundraising, strategic planning, training and leadership services with a proven track record of success. Together, the team has over 80 years of experience and has helped clients raise over $650,000,000.