Getting Your Board on Board
Written By: Jennifer Perrow
Senior Generosity Consultant, MEd, CFRE
“I can’t get my board members to engage.”
“My board members don’t financially support the organization.”
“My board members have no idea how hard it is to raise money.”
“Our board thinks we should have a ‘faith budget.’”
I have heard every one of these statements — and more — from beleaguered, exhausted, frustrated Non-Profit Executive Directors. So often there is a disconnect between what the organization truly needs and what board members are willing to do.
Here are 8 Strategies to Get Your Board on Board:
- Lead with Vision:
It’s impossible to raise money without a clear and compelling vision, yet I’m shocked by how many Executive Directors and Board members can’t articulate the organization’s vision. Is the vision outdated or unclear? Plan an extended meeting to focus on mission and vision: who are we, what are we doing, and why are we doing it?
- Get Away:
Sometimes the board room — or the church basement— is not the best place to find fresh ideas. Plan an offsite board retreat at least once each year for team-building, mission/vision work, strategic planning, assignment of board roles, fundraising tasks, evaluating budget, getting calendars in sync, and more.
- Create Sub-Committees:
Showing up periodically for board meetings is not enough. Engaged board members have subcommittee assignments and work on tasks between meetings. Consider forming groups to tackle fundraising, staffing, events, budget, or community relations. Committees should provide brief reports to the group at least quarterly.
- Ask Them to Give:
Volunteering their time is a great first step, but board members should also financially support the organization to the best of their ability. It’s a powerful thing for an Executive Director or CEO to be able to say, “100% of our board members financially support our organization.” If a board member is unwilling to make a financial gift, they may not be passionate enough about the organization to fill a board seat.
- Ask Them to Get:
Board members can help “get” gifts for the organization by bringing their own network of people to events or offering to host an in-home event for a select group of people. Non-profits always need to be growing their pool of givers, and board members can and should play a key role in that process.
- Elevate and Evaluate:
It’s important to elevate the importance of serving on your organization’s board. It’s a privilege to have a seat on a board, and board members need to be reminded that they were chosen for this work and that their involvement matters. Also—evaluate: Sometimes a board member is burned out or too busy and it’s time to discuss whether they should still hold a seat at the table. Let people exit gracefully when the time is right.
- Choose Carefully:
When a board seat opens up, think carefully about the skill set you need on your board. Do you need someone with fundraising expertise, events experience, finance skills? Recruit accordingly. And make sure you are clear about your expectations for board members to attend meetings, serve on sub-committees, give, volunteer, and whatever else is critical for success.
Pray for and with your board members. It’s a powerful thing when leaders gather to pray for their organizations. Take time as a board to pray specifically for the staff, the people your ministry serves, and the finances of your organization. Don’t underestimate what God can do when leaders gather to pray.
Do you need help getting your board on board? Our Generis team can help you to ensure that your board supports the critical work of fundraising for your non-profit organization. Click the button below to schedule a conversation.