A highly engaged board can be a nonprofit’s greatest asset. Board members can offer strategic insight, fundraising assistance, and vital connections to the community. However, keeping board members actively engaged requires a thoughtful approach. Here are some strategies for maximizing your nonprofit’s governance through effective board engagement.
1. Clearly Define Roles and Expectations
From the outset, board members should understand their roles and responsibilities. This includes meeting attendance, committee involvement, fundraising expectations, and any other tasks specific to your nonprofit. Provide a comprehensive board member handbook and conduct an orientation for new members.
2. Provide Regular Updates
Communication is key to board engagement. Regular updates about your nonprofit’s progress, challenges, and changes keep board members informed and involved. This could be through monthly newsletters, weekly emails, or quarterly reports.
3. Utilize Their Skills and Interests
Board members are likely to be more engaged if they’re working in an area they’re passionate about or where they can utilize their unique skills. Assign them to committees or projects that align with their interests and expertise.
4. Encourage Active Participation
During board meetings, encourage active participation. This may involve asking for board members’ input, ensuring all voices are heard, and fostering an environment where questions and discussions are welcomed.
5. Offer Professional Development
Professional development isn’t just for staff. Offering opportunities for board members to learn and grow can improve their effectiveness and engagement. This could be in the form of board governance workshops, leadership training, or guest speakers on relevant topics.
6. Show Appreciation
Recognize and thank board members for their contributions. A simple thank you note, public acknowledgment, or annual appreciation event can go a long way in making board members feel valued and motivated to continue their involvement.
7. Regularly Assess Board Performance
Regular board self-assessments can help identify strengths, weaknesses, and areas for improvement. This feedback can guide changes that improve board engagement and effectiveness.
Remember, board engagement isn’t a one-time task—it requires ongoing effort. However, the benefits of a highly engaged board—better decision making, stronger advocacy, and increased resource development—make it a worthwhile investment for your nonprofit’s success.