Get your Board Members Engaged by doing these 7 Things Right Now

2021 is just around the corner and we are still in a pandemic! That does not stop the work that nonprofits need to get done. To continue to rise to the circumstances CEOs and board members must be on the same page and fully engaged.

Here are 7 things you can do to move your nonprofit organization forward.

1. Send a mid-month board report.

Have you ever said to yourself I wish all board members supported me like “insert name of the most engaged board member?”

Truth be told the other board members have no idea the engagement of that board member. So, it’s up to you to bring the others along while highlighting the characteristics you want to be emulated.

Schedule a mid-month executive report blast. Mine was called Board Buzz. It was a concise fact-based email that spotlighted board participation in 4 areas:

  • Mission
  • Board development
  • Resource development, and
  • Staff development.

It was not complicated. Here is an example –

Board Development

Thank you, Board Member 1, Board Member 2, and Board Member 3 for attending a consultation that helped us develop an individual giving and public relations plan. This consultation was funded by the One Star Foundation in the amount of $5,000.00.

Think about what you want board members to know specifically. Think quality of information over quantity. A good rule of thumb is no more than 1.5 pages.

2. Introduce a new agenda designed for board engagement.

When was the last time you changed your board agenda format? A timed, concise, and intentional board meeting can be accomplished in 1.5 hours.

Here is a starting point:

· Begin your Board Meeting Agenda with a Mission Moment — You can have a client tell their nonprofit story to the board. If clients are not available at your meeting time, consider using video testimonials. This is easily accomplished using a cell phone video. The goal of this is twofold: 1. It helps the board stay connected to your nonprofit’s purpose and 2. It gives your board a database of stories they can share in the community especially with prospective donors. They will have real-life stories that show your mission’s impact.

This should only take up about 5 minutes of the agenda.

Another simple idea is to write your nonprofit mission statement on the top of the agenda so that everyone is constantly reminded of it.

· Adopt a Consent Agenda — Use a consent agenda for approval of routine items such as minutes, contracts, vetted policies, etc. A consent agenda is a collection of items that the board approves with one vote without discussion. The types of items that appear on a consent agenda are non-controversial items or routine items that are discussed at every meeting. This will minimize large information downloads and reporting thus freeing up board meeting time for a more strategic discussion. This should only take 2 minutes.

· Designate Some Meeting Time for Board Education. — Carve out 20 minutes for board training and education. This is an opportunity to do some skill building with board members on such topics as fundraising, roles & responsibilities, telling our story, advocacy, etc.

· Make Sure the Board Meeting Agenda is Strategic — You should ensure that your strategic goals are reviewed during each monthly board meeting. You may have to adjust this depending on the number of your strategic goals and the number of board meetings you have in a year. Otherwise, try to arrange your board’s entire agenda around the strategic goals of your nonprofit. This should be about 40 minutes of your timed agenda.

· Designate 15 minutes for Generative Thinking — During this time the board engages in deeper inquiry, exploring root causes, values, options, and new ideas. This is where the juice of board service is found.

It is a way for a board to examine an issue or an idea by generating more information about it: identifying the problem instead of solving it; generating questions instead of answers; making sense before making any decisions.

Generative thinking occurs upstream from strategy.

3. Set up a structured time to meet with your board chair and executive committee once a month.

I know you are saying more meetings!

These meetings will ultimately save you time and heartache. It will allow you to proactively communicate with the leadership of your board. Your board chair will be able to provide ongoing feedback, you will be able to strategize and you will also develop a bonding relationship. This will also happen with the executive committee who can come together to work on the next board. This will make sure the agenda is prepared by the CEO and the executive committee together.

4. Create a visual of ongoing board attendance and fundraising.

At the beginning of each board packet include a board attendance tracking spreadsheet. This document should have each board member’s name and their ongoing attendance record for the year. In addition, include a spreadsheet that tracks the board’s agreed upon give and get policy. This spreadsheet is best created with board input and shared quarterly in the board packet. This will denote that attendance and fundraising are important. It is also a way to quietly point out those who may be coming up short.

5. Create a board calendar.

Include a board calendar in each board packet. This calendar should list all board meetings, trainings, conferences, fundraising events, and program volunteer opportunities. Again, this will denote that participation is important.

6. Create a board roster.

Include a board roster in each board packet. This roster should list all board members with their current contact information, place of employment, board terms, and positions. This will allow board members to establish relationships outside of the boardroom creating an informal board buddy system. This is especially helpful for new board members.

7. Conduct a board of director’s CEO tour.

To engage your board, you must build a relationship with them. Seek out their advice, thank them for investing their time, talent and treasure, and make sure you do a listening tour where you spend one-on-one time with each of them getting feedback and assessing their needs. This tour can be done in-person or virtual. The goal is an informal setting with no agenda.

Implementing these steps will help to boost your board members’ engagement.

But the most important tactic is not a one-and-done activity. Boosting board member engagement takes constant attention and ongoing focus. Remember, there is no one-size fit all approach in the end you must be willing to try new approaches to keep making things better.

I hope this helps. I’d love to hear from you on how you are ensuring board engagement. Sharing is Caring.

A sample board meeting agenda, as well as other board samples, marketing, and resource development documents, can be found in the VIP Resource Library. You can subscribe to my blog or sign up for the weekly newsletter to get the password to the VIP Resource Library by clicking here.

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1 thought on “Get your Board Members Engaged by doing these 7 Things Right Now

  1. Excellent, excellent ideas! #s 2, 4, 5 & 6 really spoke to me as some things I could implement this coming new year (2021). Wondering if it is incumbent upon *me* to make these things happen (e.g. creating the calendar, creating/using an attendance tracker, etc.) or would it be appropriate to approach the Board Sec’y or other member for input and assistance. Either way, I’m excited to begin using a new agenda! I honestly hope my board will be, too.😊 Thank you!

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