Plans are important, but they’ll never work unless you take action.
This month, the DBD team will be sharing ways for you to jump start your work in 2022.
How is your board doing? Are they going strong?
Or are they faltering, a bit tired, or even stagnating?
Many non-profit boards are struggling right now. While volunteers showed up fiercely to support their organizations during the early days of the pandemic, now that it’s stretched out over two years, the flames of inspiration and engagement are diminishing.
Even the most hearty and focused volunteers are exhausted. It’s become more challenging to engage people in the virtual space. This has been a long run for leadership at all levels.
So how might you breathe some new life into your board and help activate all board members more fully?
Here are some ideas to infuse some energy in 2022:
REALIGN YOUR COMMITTEES
We are seeing a trend toward fewer, more purposeful committees and task forces. Volunteer and staff time is more precious than ever, and so we need to use it strategically. Have you asked all board members what committees they want to be on? And do any standing committees struggle to come up with meaningful content for meetings each month? Aside from finance and governance, many other committees should be task forces, brought together only when you need them to tackle a strategic issue. A new year is also a great time to ensure you are aligning committee work with your most recent strategic plan.
LAUNCH A BOARD SELF-ASSESSMENT
Per Board Source, the best practice is to have your board complete a self-assessment at least every year or two. This process can be a powerful MRI for your board, revealing what aspects of your governing body’s work is strong and what might need some work or improvement. A self-assessment can help focus your board and governance committee, give you ideas on how to use your board meeting time, and help the board know how they might meet their duties more powerfully.
ACTIVATE YOUR MEETINGS
Don’t just ask your board members to vote "yay" or "nay" on last month’s financial report as their contribution for the day. While that work is important, people are craving meaningful connection right now. Board members want to bring themselves fully to the table and contribute in some way. Dialogue with a full board together does not typically allow you to hear all voices. Consider small group discussions around strategic topics, allowing you to leverage the full brain trust of your board with four times the conversation you would have otherwise. And a side benefit is board members get to know each other better as well.
MEET ONE-ON-ONE WITH BOARD MEMBERSMany CEOs and executive directors dutifully meet with each person on their board every year. But have you asked volunteers to meet with each other individually too? Board members love to connect personally, and that’s tough to do in a virtual space or in a busy board meeting. Consider asking governance committee members or long-time board leadership to meet with one or two board members over coffee or lunch, to ask about their board experience and how they might contribute or connect to the organization going forward. This goes a long way in cultivating strong board members and in building stronger relationships among your entire board.
These are simple ways to deepen your board’s work and get the most out of volunteers who are already giving their heart and soul to your organization. Activated board members are happy board members. These strategies can help them become even more aligned and committed, and your organization will become stronger as a result.