Event Management

Improving board member engagement

If it seems like your nonprofit board members are just going through the motions and aren’t completely passionate about your organization’s mission, you’ve got some work to do. It’s important for all of the members to be interested in your nonprofit’s cause. According to the Nonprofit Research Collaborative’s 2012 special report on engaging board members in fundraising, charitable organizations with interested board members are 17 percent more likely to increase fundraising revenue and 7 percent more likely to achieve yearly fundraising goals. Here is some advice on how to keep your board members actively engaged:

“Engaged board members are 17 percent more likely to increase fundraising revenue for a nonprofit.”

Talk about the challenges your nonprofit faces
Believe it or not, your board members don’t just want to hear about the positive things going on with the organization. They also want to find out about the struggles your nonprofit is currently experiencing. According to Bill Hoffman, president of Bill Hoffman and Associates, LLC, if your staff only hears about the good things being done, they might think their efforts are no longer needed.

“Let board members know what issues and challenges you’re working on,” Hoffman suggested. “They may have experience in a particular area and can help – or know someone who’s gone through the same issue and has some thoughts to help.”

Ask questions
Another effective way to engage your board members is to meet every one of them one-on-one to discuss the work your organization does. Nell Edgington, president of Social Velocity, a management consulting firm that helps nonprofits grow, suggests asking each member what aspects of your nonprofit’s mission motivates them.

“This helps you tap into each individual board member’s passion, what brought them to the board in the first place, why they are volunteering their time, and really helps them think again, remember, and be thoughtful about why they are engaged with the nonprofit and what they want to see the nonprofit to accomplish,” Edgington explained.

Edgington also recommends asking your board members what specific skills they bring to your charitable organization and what they want to accomplish this year.

Make meetings more exciting
Board meetings are pretty pointless if all your members look like they’re ready to fall asleep. One way to make these meetings more exciting is to hold them in different locations once in a while. Instead of scheduling every meeting in the same conference room every time, consider holding it at a nearby park. Your staff will enjoy looking at nice scenery while they learn about what’s currently going on with your nonprofit.

Gail Perry, author of “Fired-Up Fundraising: Turn Board Passion into Action” recommends presenting a current challenge as a question during a meeting and asking your members to talk about the problem in small groups. Breaking your staff into groups will encourage those who typically avoid participating in board meetings to give their input.