Second of the series:
8 Strategies for Empowering your Nonprofit Board
Serving on a board is one of the most productive of volunteer activities available. Members agree to join because they want to be a part of delivering on the mission and purpose of the organization. Board members begin to question their involvement, however, when they become frustrated with communications that are inappropriately timed and executed.
As we explain in Empowering Board Members – Ensure a Successful Start, the best way to begin communicating about service expectations is before service starts. Building a strong, effective board takes more than a thoughtful orientation program. A good communications strategy will help you ensure all board members are engaged as active participants in board service.
Your board members are most likely very busy people as community leaders who are also fully engaged in full time careers. Therefore, your organization’s communications strategy, part of its overall strategic plan, should include modes and frequency of communication that keep everyone in the loop at appropriate levels. Understand and use email, text, social media or other means as required. This may necessitate a survey of each board member to determine the two or three different communication preferences that will ultimately reach each member.
Be aware that frequency of communications needed is different amongst group members. For some members, just mentioning the next meeting date is all that is needed for it to be noted and remembered. For others, a meeting follow-up that includes a specific point to the date is needed. Still others will require repeated reminders closer to the date of the meeting.
Design meeting agendas to better engage board members. When the meeting agenda is less about reporting and more about discussing key strategies or decisions, board members are better involved with the organization. Stay focused on impact and how members can contribute to desired outcomes.
Distribute the materials members should have read before the meeting in a timely manner. For longer documents, provide a concise executive overview for those who do not have time fully read everything. Even a strategic plan that is limited to one page in length encourages meeting attendance. The document’s concise presentation makes it easy to understand and therefore encourages board members to attend the meeting and participate in the discussion.
Use technology creatively to communicate with and engage board members. Many online applications are designed to make it easy for you to send invitations, survey the group, to share a document or to have a casual or structured meeting online. Teleconference or videoconference technology provides ways for members to virtually attend meetings when it is not possible to physically attend (no expensive hardware costs necessary!).
We help organizations like yours achieve high performing boards – contact us to find out how your organization can move to the next level of board member involvement.