If your nonprofit is struggling, you may want to take another look at your board of directors. Not to do any finger pointing, but to find ways to get them more involved in making an impact.
Ronn Torossian explains three ways you can engage your board of directors.
First, active board members can leverage their community connections in order to bring more attention to a cause. Just by the act of becoming more involved in the cause, and by calendaring more events, board members will talk more about their involvement. This, in turn, will lead to easy conversations about what the board is and what it is doing for the community. Nothing in these interactions need make them ask for anything and simply by externalizing the cause, board members can introduce it to more people in their social circle.
In most cases, Board members are chosen either for their work in the community, position in the community, or unique talents. However, are those unique talents being fully realized? Of course, your processes need to have some regularity, but those processes should not preclude allowing a board member to use his or her unique talents to benefit the cause. In other words, be willing to be flexible. Too many times, nonprofit organizations are laser focused on Doing It How We Do It – making them too reluctant to leverage the talents and experience of their board members. When that happens, the unwritten (and unspoken) message is this: “Your vote matters and your wallet matters, but YOU don’t really matter.” This inspires exactly no one. In sum, don’t be afraid to go around the table and give your board members (voluntary) responsibilities and let them bring more to your organization than their vote. Give them the freedom to bring their new ideas to the table by creating a culture in which that sort of buy-in is an expectation.
Ronn Torossian suggests that you tangibly answer the following question: “Do my board members feel free to openly advocate for this cause?”
The process of answering this question can open up multiple lines of dialogue both inside and outside your organizational chain. It can turn once a month appointment keepers into active, card-carrying fans of your cause.