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How to Evaluate a Board Meeting

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It's a great idea to evaluate every meeting or committee meeting that you hold. But you want something painless and simple, that will actually encourage people to participate. One organization I belong to has breakfast speakers once a month, and members pay to come for breakfast and the speaker. This organization sends an email to all attendees immediately after the meeting, asking them to fill out an evaluation survey on SurveyMonkey. They get good, not great, response on the survey. Another board that I serve on solicit evaluations immediately after the meeting. In our board packets, there is a convenient evaluation form to fill out. Here's what's on the form: Share your thoughts about the board meeting: Meeting room? Stick to the agenda? Liked the agenda? Did we miss anything important" People were prepared? Reports clear and helpful? Cordial, team-like discussion? Appropriate use of our time? (meeting began and eneded on time?) Any other comments? Anything we could improve? In your opinion, what is the biggest challenge our organization faces this year? What were your big take-away's from the meeting?
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How to Coach Your Board Volunteers

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How important is it that you coach carefully any of your volunteers? And you need to choose them carefully too! I am commenting today on a LinkedIn discussion. The person who started the conversation told of a private school where two different board volunteers spoke about fundraising to the other parents. The first volunteer who spoke complained about "slack parent giving" last year, particularly compared to faculty/staff giving. And he was dressed in a monotone of gray. Wow, just the sort of delivery designed to get parents charging ahead to support the annual fund! Make folks feel bad and you're lost before you start. The second volunteer was a more "flamboyant" presence. He went on about how generous parent booster giving had been last year - to sports and extra-curricular activities. He was engaging and warm. The first volunteer was deadly (he had a track record of defeat), and the other one was enthusiastic (he had experienced success.) Clearly the person who had a negative and defeatist tone would never inspire other volunteers. This also shows that you can't expect every single board volunteer to be a great fundraiser. I think it's delusional to expect all board members to be able to be effective advocates for the cause or successful fundraisers. We need to select, train and "pump up" our volunteers carefully! I like to script my folks - or at least give them talking points - so they make an appropriate and engaging presentation. Negativity or arm-twisting never work! Never trust a volunteer to get up in front of a crowd and deliver the right message. Remember, they aren't in the business, they are just beginners (usually). So take control, brief them and give them the talking points. If you're really on top of things, actually schedule a formal rehearsal with them. Put them in front of a fictitious group of people and let them practice.
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Board Chairs: Fire-Up Your Board with a Call to Action!

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It's wonderful to see a board chair assume rightful leadership and challenge her board members to action. Here's a brilliant example of excellent leadership from a nonprofit board chair. Call to Action!I'm on the board of our local AFP (Association of Fundraising Professionals) chapter here in North Carolina's Research Triangle. (If you don't know about AFP, you need to join! Our wonderful board chair, Eli Jordfald, took on a personal priority this year - to reinvent our annual "National Philanthropy Day" celebration in November. If this "reinvention" was going to happen, Eli needed every single one of us board members to commit to a part in making this successful. With only a part-time staff person, we rely on our board volunteers to make it happen. So if we didn't pull through, then we wouldn't even have an event. Eli send out an email last week with the subject line: "Call to Action." Take a look at this professional and very specific note to her board members. She was not necessarily "asking for help." Instead it was "rallying the troops." How long has it been since you issued a Call to Action to your board, your staff or your volunteers? These words alone get immediate attention.
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Boards gone wild!

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I am teaching today in Greensboro, NC at the AFP CFRE Review Course and the AFP First Course in Fundraising. As usual, they have me talking about managing and motivating volunteers and board members. In my last class, we had such a laugh over "Boards Gone Wild." What do I mean? A Board Gone Wild is a well-meaning group of volunteers who gallop off in the wrong direction. It's the wrong direction because the plan or project they are espousing is not well-planned, not well-thought out, has unintended negative consequences, and cannot be pulled off with the current staff and human resources on hand.