September 9, 2013

12 Ways to Enhance Your Board Member’s Experience

A happy board at a tableWhile we hope people will join our boards for the pure joy of giving, the decision to be on a board is more complicated. Besides supporting your nonprofit, most members hope to advance other goals.

Are you giving your board members opportunities to meet them? Do you, for instance, introduce them to other community leaders with whom they might do business? How about their brand? Do you help build your nonprofit board member’s personal brands? While serving, do your board members have occasions to sharpen their skills? What goals can people meet by being on your board and serving a nonprofit they love?

You can help your nonprofit board to meet many goals in numerous ways that also help your nonprofit. In the list below, you’ll discover a dozen possibilities.

1. Letterhead

Place your board members’ names on your letterhead to enhance your mutual credibility.

2.  Website

Include their name and business association on your website. You will want to add a link to their organizations.


Ask for a brief testimonial from your board members. Ask them for 140 characters or so about why they support your nonprofit. Place their words on your website and in your newsletters. Provide a testimonial for their use for the same purposes.  Your quote can provide value, especially in professions based on cold contacts and trust, such as lawyers.

4. Videos

Ask for video testimonials. Videos have the same potential uses as quotes.

5. Blogs

Request that individual board members write a guest piece about their experience as board members for the nonprofit’s blog. What have they learned? What, for instance, as a board member is the most exciting aspect of your nonprofit’s work? You’ll find this helpful in recruiting prospective board members. (Watch How to Recruit Stellar Nonprofit Board Members for more on recruiting.) You, of course, will also share it on social media for them to like.

6. Newspapers

Request a board member to write a letter to the editor about how your nonprofit solves a community need. Get both your names out in the public square. A client did this and received a surprise foundation gift of over a quarter of a million dollars. The foundation did not accept unsolicited applications. They did read the local newspaper.

7. In-house Publications

Find out if they have in-house publications at their offices and any obligations to provide copy. If yes, suggest a post about what they learned on your board and how it supported their professional growth.  They might begin, “As an accountant serving this nonprofit, I learned …” Offer to provide some quotes about how their contributions are valued at your nonprofit.

8. Presentation Add-on

Who gets more recognition at your events? Your sponsors or your board members? Who provides your nonprofit with more value? Consider the gifts your board members make to your organization and the fees you charge for event sponsorship. With this in mind, consider how you might recognize your members more at non-sponsored events throughout the year. For instance, you can script opening remarks at your annual meeting, public lectures, and even volunteer training to publicly acknowledge board members. Public recognition of their service will help your nonprofit recruit future members. It helps board members meet more people.

9. Who Is Already In the Board Room

Design your board meetings to engage members in one-on-one conversations. The discussions will deepen and foster long-term relationships. By growing trust, you’ll improve the quality of board decision-making. And, for board members who joined your board to meet others, you’ll be helping your board members to meet their goals.

10. Say Yes

When invited, attend your board member’s business events. Here, as you meet people publicly, acknowledge your board member’s work. You’ll improve their branding,  increase your nonprofit’s visibility, and better understand the gifts they bring to your nonprofit.

11. Recommend

Recommend them on LinkedIn.  Once a month, thank one of them on LinkedIn for their service.

12. Learn

One of the most valuable ways to enhance your board member’s experience in professional opportunities is through education. During their terms,  not only will they learn about your nonprofit, but you can also help them learn how to be great board members, how to work with volunteers, and how to get stuff done with minimal resources.  When you pack their board experience with learning opportunities large and small, you improve their board service and professional lives.

You ask board members to be your partners. As part of your partnership, be intentional about providing quality experiences in the boardroom that overflow into their personal and professional lives. You’ve just read a dozen opportunities. Pick one to start today. Let me know how it goes.

More Resources to Make Your Board Super Effective

5 Ways to Turn Off Your Nonprofit Board Members

Guilty As Charged: Prove Your Board Supports Your Organization

How to Help Your Board to Take Smart Risks

Create the Board of Your Dreams

For more answers, check out this Nonprofit  CEO Library.

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Karen Eber Davis

Karen Eber Davis provides customized advising and coaching around nonprofit strategy and board development. People leaders hire her to bring clarity to sticky situations, break through barriers that seem insurmountable, and align people for better futures. She is the author of 7 Nonprofit Income Streams and Let's Raise Nonprofit Millions Together.


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