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.

Top Tip to Maintain your Nonprofit Board's Momentum and Motivation

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A question I am frequently asked is, "Once I get my board fired-up, then how on earth do I keep my board members motivated and enthusiastic? Whenever the board members gather together, we get excited and energized about our work. But my board members frequently get distracted with other priorities. What to do?" The first thing you must do is take responsibility for keeping your board energized. If you are the nonprofit CEO, do everything you can to keep them going. AND if you are the chair of the board, also, do everything YOU can to fan the flames of your board members' energy. The most important thing is to take responsibility and don't expect that someone else will assume this role. Do you know the saying, "If it's to be, it's up to me?" Well, here's the perfect place to implement that idea. If your board is gonna stay excited, motivated and energized, it won't happen without YOU taking the lead. You can't expect your busy board members to keep focused and energized on their own. If you leave it up to them, you just may be disappointed. This is "Volunteer Management 101" - and the number one job of managing volunteers is motivating them. Here is a real life best practice example from a board I am currently serving on. This is from the CEO of Lillian's List, a political action group on whose board I serve. Our CEO, Carol Teal, is just about the best nonprofit CEO I've ever had the pleasure of working with.

The Number One Way to Get Your Board Members to Follow Through

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iStock_000006450448XSmallSo many nonprofit board members are enthusiastic and well-meaning but too often they back out of their commitments. Bet you have run into this problem! And I have been on the other side too, as a board member. In the heat of an exciting discussion, I suddenly found myself making personal commitments. Then later, in my office, I thought better of those ideas and was not so very enthusiastic about them. In nonprofit organizations, it's hard working with volunteers, who actually don't HAVE to do anything anyway. You simply can't MAKE volunteers work. That's why I always say that we are in the motivation business. You have to be able to motivate and charge up your board members and volunteers if you want them to be productive. It's a rare nonprofit volunteer who can keep herself fully pumped up with excitement and enthusaism all the time! Here's my secret weapon in motivating my volunteer committees. And it's an old standby of teamwork and leadership theory: PEER PRESSURE. Here's the most important thing to know about board members: they never, repeat, never want to look bad in front of their peers.

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.

Try a "zero-based committee structure"

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Wow, what a great idea! A zero-based committee structure - just like zero-based budgeting. This idea means that every year (or two at the minimum), the nonprofit's board disbands its committees. It goes back to the drawing board and re-evaluates what it needs. All the current committees are eliminated. And the board decides, based on its current needs and plans, what committees it will need for the next year or two. The board then starts over with a clean slate of committees.

How to get board members feeling comfortable making an ask

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Yes, here's the holy grail!  A board member who is willing to…

What percentage of the board should be helping to raise money?

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Here's another question I received during my webinar Six New…

When a nonprofit board member is reluctant to open the door to a personal friend

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This is such a typical problem for board members - and for staff. The…

Powerful morale-boosting exercise for your board

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Morale is often an issue with board members who are treated to too many boring meetings. If I had to sit through meaningless meetings, I'd lose my morale too! I have developed a sure fire exercise that wakes everybody up, gets them talking, smiling and enjoying themselves, gives them their own chance to speak, fans the flames of their energy and passion, and reconnects them with the reason they are taking the time out of their busy lives to serve on the board. Tall order? Try this!

Ways to Liven Up Your Board Meetings - and Your Board

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Focus the agenda on results. Decide what is needed most out of…

No-Ask Fundraising: Six High-Impact Jobs for Board Members

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How do we harness our board members' passion for the cause and…