More often than not, I can tell when an executive director is preparing for a board meeting. He or she is usually a little on edge and short on patience.
The team may be a bit “amped up” with people running around creating reports, copying documents, preparing talking points, or putting together power point slides.
The atmosphere says, “Game on” and everyone needs to be ready for when the board of directors show up.
Some look at board meetings as a necessary evil or a pain to be endured. However, a successful agency should see a board meeting as a way to stay on mission to deliver great community impact.
Try looking at your board as more than something you need because state law requires it. Try looking at them as a resource at your disposal.
Let’s explore a few ways that your board can best serve you and your agency.
1. Offer Advice and Help You Plan Strategically
Board meetings should be a mutually beneficial opportunity to stop and assess progress on goals, obtain helpful feedback, and make any appropriate mid-course corrections. Successful boards don’t allow their meetings to become adversarial. Nobody wins when that happens.
This one will take a little ego management. I’d suggest coming to the board with a set of questions or problems you’d like help addressing. This can be done during an executive session, something not enough boards have. Hopefully, your directors are well-qualified to help out in theses areas. And, if your current directors cannot offer guidance and help beyond oversight, then maybe you need to do some pruning and seek new directors.
2. Provide Important Connections for You and Your Agency
As successful professionals, your board members have fostered valuable connections over the years. Those connections can turn into potential donors, volunteers, and much more! It is important to encourage your board members to reach out to their network of contacts.
It helps when the board understands its proper role. The board should help both govern the agency and serve as a resource to the executive director. An executive director can do a lot in this regard when on-boarding new directors. One way is by providing informative new director orientation training.
3. Demonstrate Professional Skills Assistance
Board members usually have a wealth of information, skills, ideas, and opinions. A confident executive director will try to tap into those resources to help the agency be more successful. So looking at the board as a body of sages is one way to set the stage for healthy give-and-take during meetings.
The kind of professional skills assistance you should be looking for will depend heavily on your overall mission. However, keep in mind that having a diverse mix of professional skills will only help your board to succeed and meet your goals.
4. Serve as Ambassadors to the Community
Having board members with strong ties to the community is always a valuable asset. If members are already connected to the community, they can more easily build trust and foster cooperation between your organization and the community you hope to serve.
However, not every board member needs to be directly connected to the community you’re serving. Board members can still serve as ambassadors with the help of those members that already have established ties. Plus having a diverse board with varying perspectives will help your organization more thoroughly serve the designated area in need.
5. Provide Fundraising Assistance
When it comes down to measuring the impact of any agency, the most popular (and easily measured) indicator is the amount of funding your agency is able to generate. We all know that fundraising can be pretty challenging. There are a lot of moving parts that have to be executed perfectly for it to be considered a success.
Having a talented board of directors to help carry that heavy load will come in handy. It’s important to build a board of directors that can perform the work with as enthusiasm and dedication as you would. You cannot do it all on your own. You would be missing a great opportunity by ignoring the fire power sitting right in front of you each month.
Are you struggling with board challenges, team issues, or making tough decisions? Check out my nonprofit leadership coaching program, Leading for Impact and work one-on-one with me.Get the support you need to further your mission and become the leader you were always meant to be.