Sixth of the series: 
8 Strategies for Empowering your Nonprofit Board

Board membership provides a platform for making a significant contribution that helps the organization accomplish its mission. Your organization will benefit from board members who are eager to share time, talent, treasure, and ties, so make the experience meaningful. Immediately engage new members by assigning tasks they can do right away. Circle back to longer-term board members and encourage them to try participating in ways different from their past service.

By getting and keeping board members involved, you are creating the meaningful experience they anticipated when they joined the board. For new members, involvement helps them meet other members and develop desired skills for board service. Look for co-creation projects, which helps them have ownership from the beginning and feel like a valued peer. Established board members will usually enjoy sharing their acquired board expertise, which adds new meaning to their experience.

When time and resources are limited for a board member, shorter-term projects help to engage the member with the mission in a meaningful way. Helping with the execution of annual events is a project where new members can provide value right away while learning the basics about a recurring event from those who are practiced at its execution.

No one appreciates “busy work.” Beware of projects that make board members feel unimportant or exploited. The best way to do this is to know each board member’s skill set and help each to find a project or level of participation that helps to achieve a fulfilling experience. A common mistake along these lines is to ask a young board member to fix your computer system, assuming that all younger people know about technology and hardware. See also Empowering Board Members – Include Millennials for more on creating a meaningful board service for younger people.

Providing opportunities for service leverages what each board member has to give and is helpful in diverting focus from the fact they may not have the capacity to make a significant financial gift. Ultimately, engaging board members with your organization and its mission is the best way to provide a meaningful experience. Your organization’s future depends on utilizing an engaged board that has benefited from the meaningful experiences of board service.

Does your organization’s strategic plan include a strategy related to:
– engaging younger people on your board?
– creating meaningful experiences for board members?
– phasing out board members who don’t contribute?

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.