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Energizing board members

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Question:

What are three keys to energizing board members for philanthropy?

Answer:

* Connect to their passion.

Know the “why” about each board member. Why are they on your board? Why are they — or why aren’t they — enthusiastic about serving?

Conduct individual meetings with your members at their office or home so you can get a sense of what they really care about and what drives their energy for your organization.

Ask them what’s working for them, and what’s not.

Let them know that you are dedicated to building a bridge between their work on the board and their passion for your cause. Making that connection is a key secret to success.

* Give them options.

Board members want to help and they welcome professional direction. Create a variety of roles for them to be successful.

For example, every board member should be an ambassador for your organization. That means they know the story and are willing to tell the story.

This is a shared responsibility between each member and the executive.

In addition, many board members can serve you by opening doors with potential partners and funders.

While I find that very few board members want to “ask” for money, there are many ways to engage them in philanthropy and community relations.

Keep them busy, but keep them in their comfort zone. Don’t be surprised that as board members experience success at one level, they will seek deeper levels of commitment.

* Do one thing at a time.

Focus on quality, not quantity. I would rather have each board member doing one task a month for our philanthropic programs than have them struggle with too many actions that never get done.

Clear and consistent expectations can translate into meaningful actions that advance philanthropy and the mission of your organization.

Once you have your master plan for resource development in place, make sure you have established strategic priorities to guide your actions and know where your focus is at all times. Then you can give clear directions that matter.

— Compiled by Leslie Williams


Michael Guillot is director of development for the WakeMed Foundation in Raleigh, N.C.

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