Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Recruiting and Retaining The Right Board Members for your Nonprofit Board – Part III

Guest blog post written by Jeanne Drake Ward of Jeanne Ward Consulting.

Over our past discussions together, we have reviewed some steps that you and your board can take to recruit and retain the ‘right’ board members. Please see the below graphic for a review of the steps. We have already discussed the importance of Assessing the needs of your board and organization as well as Planning for the right board members. Today, we will discuss Training your board.

Training your board, with the Executive Director, is a critical step to ensuring knowledgeable, beneficial and engaged board members; in essence… a good board. Training should include the following, but may include other topics as determined by your board’s and organization’s needs. You can watch a short Nonprofit Board Training Summary video for more information.Focusing on the below examples of training topics can lead to a strong board.

1. Educate your board members on the organization. All staff, voluntary and paid, should know their organization well. It is their organization! Make sure that they tell the same story. Help them know what to say when someone in the community asks them where they work or volunteer. Actually give them the words to use so that they will provide a consistent message to the world. Help them be your organization’s champions!

2. Identify board strengths. Use a resource such as Strengths Finder 2.0 by Tom Rath or Strengths Based Leadership by Tom Rath and Barry Conchie to help each of your current board members know their individual strengths. This will help your board, individually and as a group, know what they have to offer the organization as well as what additional strengths are needed on the board.

3. Ensure your board members know their ‘roles’ and understand how their role differs from the role of the executive director. It is critical for the board to know what is expected of them for your particular board and organization. There will be over-riding themes that all nonprofit boards should follow, such as ‘board governs, executive director manages’; but there will also be some specific training needs for your particular organization. For example, your board may require each board member to organize one fundraising ‘giving circle’ event. You would want to train the board on the expectations of organizing a giving circle fundraiser. For more information on giving circles, see information from the Greenlights organization.

4. Ensure your board members know the board expectations. Share data on how and where these expectations come from. For example, charter schools may have requirements as a result of Federal, State and City mandates surrounding the formation of charter schools.

5. Train the board in the areas of fundraising, marketing, community engagement/partnerships as well as strategic planning (basic, if needed) and meeting organization/setting agendas. It is important that all board members have, at minimum, a basic knowledge of the above areas. Your board members may have specific skills, knowledge and talent in one or more of these areas. If you have experts in any of these areas, you can always ask them to conduct the training on those topics!

Help your board be as educated and knowledgeable as possible. This will help create an engaged and strong board. I look forward to speaking with you next time when we discuss the final phase of recruiting and retaining the right board= Step 4 – Manage.

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