Love the board you’re with

It doesn’t take much digging to uncover some serious board envy within the world of nonprofits, including those with a faith base. A lot of CEOs assume that almost every board but theirs is comprised of folks who eagerly embrace the dual responsibilities of giving and getting. However, this is seldom the way things are.

It is my experience that board members ask not because they have not enough information to do so with comfort.  It is also my experience that any board, with sufficient encouragement, has the potential of exceeding expectations when it comes to resource generation.

To frustrated CEOs and development staff out there who are hoping for something better from their boards, I offer the following suggestions.

Appreciate board members for who they are. When board members understand that their best service really does matter to the success of the organization, it’s amazing how they grow in enthusiasm for and understanding of their special role. It’s also rather wonderful what a little intentional one-on-one will uncover about individual board members and their potential contributions.   

Never underestimate each individual’s network. Everyone knows someone. An obvious fact, but one that’s too often ignored in our quest for the “really” significant relationships.  All members of the board have connections that can benefit the cause. It’s up to the leadership team (including board leaders) to maximize the web of relationships spinning out from the boardroom.

Respect board members enough to educate them. CEOs and board leaders who are intent on building a strong fundraising team understand the importance of providing new members with a thorough orientation to the organization and what it means to serve on this particular board. Effective fundraising boards also are nurtured through ongoing education and a steady stream of timely and easily digested information.

Maximize the board’s potential through meaningful and manageable tasks. Use board member’s time carefully, sparingly, and with an eye to greatest return on investment of it. And when a board member’s effort results in a gift or important new connection, let him or her know. Success breeds continued effort.

Enthused, involved, and informed board members are the magnets that draw friends, funds, and goodwill to the organization. However, the strength of the magnetic pull is in direct proportion to the encouragement and education provided to the membership. So cut the envy and love the board you’re with. I promise. You won’t be disappointed.

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