Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Keep Your Board Members Engaged

This is a topic of concern for many executive directors and fellow board members. I know because it is a topic nonprofits ask questions about. But, rather than focusing on all the negative reasons board members are not engaged in the work of the organization, I thought I would focus on some things you might do to ward off the problem in the first place.

What about creating a Board Development or Governance Committee? The purpose of this committee is to build, educate and develop the board so that it can effectively accomplish the mission of the organization with all board members input.

This committee expands on the role of the Nominating Committee by providing job descriptions for board members, clarifying board expectations, ensuring that new members receive adequate orientation to general board practices and the organization, keeping veteran members informed, motivated and active, reviewing by-laws, ensuring a board self-assessment is completed and planning for leadership succession. They may also be responsible for planning annual retreats, and arranging for on-going trainings.

This is the committee that takes care of itself and its members. Another important role for this committee to consider is - do board members know each other and how do they interact and work together? Team building exercises, retreats and meals together are just some of the type of activities that create opportunities for people to get to know each other and build trust. People feel more motivated to attend meetings and become engaged when they know and trust each other.

As an executive director, another key to keeping your board members engaged is to thank them continuously for their hard work. Let them know you appreciate everything they do. A sincere thank you and true appreciation can help keep board members motivated to do their best work.

Here are a few suggestions – we would love to hear what works for your board!

Holly Witt, NRS, Alexandria Charter


Verna said...
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Nonprofit Resource Specialists said...

Thanks Verna for your comment!

Verna said...

I totally agree with this idea! What's the point of being a nonprofit organization if you don't participate in the group's project at all - it's like acting as a boss or something. I do accounting for nonprofit organizations across the state and I can see that some of them stopped thinking about what the group's goal is all about - instead, they concentrate on getting the group more money which is sad. As a man who's assigned in accounting for non profit organizations, as well as a founder of a local group, I am quite disappointed to find this blog post of yours quite true. Thank you for posting this - a good way to reach out to other non-profit organizations.

-No Problem!