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How to Transform Your Board in One Bold Step

Everybody wishes they had a more powerful, more connected, more engaged board. Right?

Here is the story of my favorite organization, Lillian’s List, and how we transformed our board with a Dream Team group of new board members.

You can reach for the stars and enlist your dream team board!

Here’s the Lillian’s List story:

I wish you could have been there.

It was about 3 years ago on a warm spring day in North Carolina.

I was chairing a meeting of our Board Governance committee of Lillian’s List .

We were thinking, thinking about how to totally “uplevel” our entire board.

We knew the stakes were high.

We knew that WHO was on our board had everything to do with how much money we raised and what kind of impact we had in our state.

And we had big plans.

We wanted to reach for the stars.

We actually wanted stars for our board.

So I said to my other board buddies,

“Who do we really, really need and want for our board?”

Our Dream Team board helped us achieve incredible impact.

And we sat down and made a list.

We identified the people that in our dreams, we wanted to have on our board. We identified women across the state – young and old – who were powerbrokers in their own sphere.  (we are a statewide women’s group.)

We literally identified who would be on our Dream Team board.

We thought,

“In our dreams, these are the people we’d most love to have around the table with us.”

And guess what we did.

We put together the list of 10 people.

We went out and personally met with every single person on the list.

We asked them ALL to join the board.

We explained WHY we wanted each person specifically, and what she would bring to the group.

And here is what we did that made all the difference:

Who would be on your organization’s dream team board?

We showed them the entire list of everyone we were inviting.

And that was the bait.

Guess what happened.

Every single person we invited saw the list and said, yes!”

They all said that they simply could not pass up the chance to meet and work with all those other women who were such stars and powerbrokers.

One of those new board members was Kivi Leroux Miller of nonprofitmarketingguide.com.

She’ll tell you right now that she was hopelessly busy and overcommitted as a nonprofit marketing expert and a mother.

But she said she could NOT turn it down because it would be so cool to meet all the other people on the list.

WHO is on your board matters a lot.

Do you want to know the number one reason people actually join nonprofit boards?

Don’t faint when I tell you the answer:

Marketing guru Kivi Miller said she just couldn’t turn down the chance to meet all the cool women we were inviting to join the Lillian’s List Board.

It’s WHO ELSE is on the board.

My fundraising colleague, June Bradham, interviewed board members all over the world in her terrific book, The Truth About What Nonprofit Boards Want.

Board members repeatedly told her that their number one reason for joining their boards was “who else was on the board.”

But if you think about it, it really does make sense.

People want to serve with other people who are committed, talented, passionate, and interesting in their own right.

Serving on a nonprofit board is a social experience as well as a personally rewarding one.

So many nonprofit leaders forget this.

They forget to foster social relationships and help the other board members meet each other.

BOTTOM LINE:

WHO is on your own board matters as much as anything.

Why not make your own Dream Team list and go out and enlist them for your own special, wonderful, important cause??

If you want to uplevel your own board, join me for my webinar on Tuesday June 28: “7 Steps to Enlist Your Dream Team Board.” I’ll give you a template for identifying and enlisting YOUR own dream team. Find out more here.

You can download my FREE 24 page workbook: “Enlist Your Dream Team Board” here.

Join me!

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  • http://profile.yahoo.com/2V23QUNC2AOZFBT5NPZB4YD4IM Zeke

    I am amazed, and happy, that Gail shares her effective, practical knowledge so freely and generously. Thank you Gail!

  • Llozano

    You don’t need stars to be an effective board.  I believe you can get much more done with people that actually believe in your mission and vision for the organization and want to be a part of that.  Most stars want to shine brighter than the rest and to have the focus on them not on the mission or the work that needs to be done.

  • Anonymous

    HI Zeke, thanks so much!  I’m happy to help!

  • Anonymous

    Hi, you make a great point about “stars,” who can be uninterested in your cause and more interested in themselves.  For our Lillian’s List board, however, we carefully identified some high performing women who had already proved themselves with our organization. We have a firm criterion (which I didn’t mention in my article, but should have) – that we vet each new board member by asking her to serve on a committee first.  
    Thanks for the reminder, tho, that “stars” can get in the way sometimes!

  • Jeanne Allen

    Love this story and how you break it down.  Good example for other nonprofit boards- and it is not difficult to replicate really.

  • Trish

    What are your thoughts on a blended board consisting of dream board members and some from the well evolved founders board?