Previously, we covered how to attract great board members.
But after you “get” them to join your board, how do you keep them?
In a few words, you want to make sure they become engaged and remain involved, so they develop into strong, loyal supporters of your organization.
Five Strategies to Keep Your Strongest Board Members
As you know, your board members are exceedingly busy between their careers, family, and other areas of their personal lives. So it’s extremely important that you take thoughtful, strategic steps toward keeping them a part of your board.
Here are five simple strategies for retaining your greatest board members.
1. Stir their emotions.
Tell great stories. Board members serve on your board so they can feel good. Bring a “mission moment” to each meeting to remind them why they are there. This could be in the form of a letter or live testimonial from a client, a staff member telling a story, a video, etc.
Be creative, but make sure your board members are continuously reminded why they are there -– and make them FEEL. This will continue to flame their passion for your organization.
You can also lead a discussion by asking each board member to say why they decided to join your board in the first place, and why they continue to serve. There’s nothing like articulating out loud to solidify a commitment to your organization.
2. Make it fun.
I’m not talking about “kid in a candy store” or “night out on the town” types of fun, but it’s important to keep in mind that board members are giving up their time (to be with you) when they could be doing something else, so make an effort to include some fun.
Schedule up to fifteen minutes’ worth of social time during each board meeting. Encourage members to socialize before, after and in-between meetings. And schedule at least one yearly board appreciation event to give them a chance to relax and enjoy each others’ company.
3. Run efficient meetings.
In other words, don’t waste their time.
Be sure to send out the agenda and meeting materials in advance to give your board time to review them. Use a consent agenda, and don’t waste time with “reports.” Assume board members read the materials you send in advance, and use meeting time for substantive discussions — not boring reports.
Make sure that board meetings start and end on schedule. Well-run, efficient meetings show board members that you value their time.
4. Offer regular trainings.
Training can be formal or informal, to help your board understand and do their jobs well — particularly fundraising training! They should feel comfortable making the ask and performing everything you expect of them.
No time to train them? Nonsense — you can always find time to train your board.
5. Provide food.
I hope this goes without saying, but it’s important to feed your board members, and feed them well.
Regardless of whether your meeting overlaps with mealtime, assume your board members are coming to you “on the run” and would appreciate some food and drink.
This Week’s Task
This week, evaluate how well you’re doing in terms of retaining great board members. Take some notes about areas where you’d like to improve.
Note the qualifying word above — “great.” We’re talking about retaining your strongest board members, not just the same ones you’ve always had because you can’t seem to get rid of them. We’ll talk about handling that group with term limits another day.
Are you running efficient meetings, as well as stirring emotions, and providing fun? Are you making time for your board to socialize and get to know each other?
Share your comments and questions below. I always make an effort to answer each one, so don’t be shy!
This post is part of my Year of the Fundraising Board series. Check out the entire series to learn how to create a stronger, smarter, and super motivated nonprofit board.