Having a strong board of directors is key to moving any nonprofit forward. The decisions your board makes today can either propel your organization toward fulfilling its mission or set it back. That is the level of importance and responsibility that the board holds. Communication is a critical skill for an effective board.
Now because many of us continue to work from home during this pandemic our lack of face-to-face interaction has put a strain on communication. It is critical that we brush up on basic communication skills.
Here are 3 things you can do right now to improve board member communications.
1. Run efficient, focused, and collaborative board meetings.
Your nonprofit’s board meetings are where most of the board’s communications will occur, whether virtual or in person. The purpose of your board meeting is to ensure fiduciary & trusteeship responsibilities are being met and to make decisions that will contribute to the nonprofit’s success.
To ensure that your board meetings are focused and effective you must consider preparation and time. Preparation — Send your board packet for review a minimum of 72 hours in advance of the meeting. Time — Develop a timed agenda. If you meet monthly — the board meeting should be no more than 1.5 hours.
Your board chair must ensure that the boardroom remains collaborative. They set the tone for communication and the sharing of ideas. It is their role to manage conflicting personalities and those who may have varying visions for your organization.
The secretary must take minutes that provide enough detail that the members who weren’t able to attend the meeting understand key decisions but not so much that every second is documented.
If you use this approach for your board meetings you will increase your board’s effectiveness and you’ll improve communication. This will increase the board’s sense of ownership of the mission, budget, and strategic priorities.
2. Encourage interaction outside the boardroom.
Often time the work that needs to happen for an organization cannot be done in a once a month or once a quarter meeting. Board members must communicate in between meetings. Having an effective committee or task force structure will help facilitate this process. Committee or task force meetings are held between board meetings to explore topics in-depth, to get the work done, and then bring back recommended action to the full board for consideration. If a committee or task force is not progressing with its work, it is up to the Board Chair to speak with its chair and resolve any obstacles that might exist.
The role of the executive directors is to support the board and committee or task force in between meetings by making calls, setting up calendar reminders, shared documents, and sending emails to address any roadblocks they may be experiencing and to assist with progress towards their goals.
3. Evaluate your communication strategy.
Every board of directors is different. They each have a different set of strengths or weaknesses. There is no one size fits all. The strategies that work for one board may not work for another one. Because of this, you’ll need to take extra steps to evaluate the communication approach at your local level.
As you adjust your communication procedures and tools track the progress you make towards your goals. If the change is effective continue with the process.
It is also important for you to ask your board members for feedback on the effectiveness of your board meetings. This will let you know if you are on the right track or if you need to make major communications improvements. It will also boost board member engagement because it will open the door for them to express their opinions.
Of course, you can’t eliminate miscommunication but by implementing these suggestions you can certainly minimize it.
Solidifying communications is an ongoing process that involves constantly seeking improvement.
I hope this helps. Got any other tips or advice for nonprofits looking to improve communications with their board of directors share them in the comments. Sharing is Caring.
Need sample board, resource development, or marketing documents you can subscribe to my blog or sign up for the weekly newsletter to get the password to the FREE VIP Resource Library by clicking here. A sample board meeting survey can be found in the library.
PLUS, as a SPECIAL BONUS for reading my blog, I am offering a thirty-minute LIVE coaching session with YOURS TRULY…someone with years of hard-won nonprofit wisdom that you can talk to like your best friend (letting it all out). This FREE 30-minute coaching call to solve your biggest dilemmas goes down when you want! Just schedule your call by clicking here.
If you are a nonprofit professional and want to learn from me and others join the Nonprofit Professional Exchange Facebook Group.