As the leader of your not-for-profit organization, one of your most important responsibilities (and often most difficult) is to establish a team of passionate men and women to communicate your organization’s mission to potential donors, sponsors, volunteers, community leaders – and everyone, really. Unfortunately, when you’re competing against work, kids, family events, household chores, etc. for time and attention, it’s not uncommon for board members to put their commitments to the nonprofit on the backburner. Don’t despair. Instead, try the following techniques to develop an active and effective board of directors capable of leading your nonprofit into the future.
Keep Your Organization’s Mission Front And Center
As the driving force of your organization, the mission statement is an integral to your organization’s success. It is this mission that likely moved your board members to want to assume a leadership role in the first place. Therefore, you should take every opportunity to reinforce the mission and remind your board of the impact the organization makes in the community and the important role they play in making the mission a reality.
Set The Tone At The Top
The tone of your organization is set at the top, which is why your ability to be present, enthusiastic and, most importantly, hands-on is critical. Sure it would be easier to delegate a job to a member of your board, but what kind of tone does that set? As the leader of the organization, your board is watching you to learn what is expected of them. It’s up to you to demonstrate the leadership qualities you expect of them. Once expectations are established, work just as hard to ensure that they are maintained – and don’t forget to hold yourself accountable as well.
One of the best things you can do for your board – and your organization as a whole – is to facilitate two-way communication. Not only should you be keeping your leadership team up to date with current events, important news and timely opportunities, you should encourage them to bring ideas and suggestions to the table and encourage them to speak up and offer their opinions for consideration as well. Not only will frequent communication keep them engage in the task at hand (monthly meetings, for example) two-way communication will facilitate board ownership of the organization’s success.
Passion drives motivation and motivation drives action. And while your board members are likely passionate about your organization, getting them motivated to actively champion your mission, solicit sponsorships, and promote the nonprofit’s initiatives can be difficult – but certainly not impossible. One way to motivate your board to get more involved could be to share some of the interesting nonprofit insight that comes your way! You could also sign them up to start receiving a copy of Money & Management, Rea’s electronic newsletter for not-for-profit organizations.
By Todd Mizer, CPA (New Philadelphia office)