February 6, 2020

You Can Help Your Board Work Better Together

You want your board’s support. You want them to work together well. What works?

Board Trust: Why It Matters and How to Build It

  • Encourage trust among directors to boost productivity.
  • Key Actions: Facilitate introductions and share experiences.
  • Trust leads to effective meetings and resource allocation.
  • Ultimately, fosters a tight-knit community within the nonprofit.

What You Can Do to Help a Nonprofit Board Work Well Together

How might you get your board to help fulfill the vision? Find ways for them to learn why they are one of your directors. Ask them to have one-on-one conversations to share their stories.

  • What draws them to this nonprofit?
  • Why did you say “yes” to being on the board?
  • Of all the agencies that serve similar groups, why this nonprofit?
  • What was the highlight of your board service so far? Why?
  • What standout about the work of this nonprofit to you?

Directors who share conversations about “why I am here” and “what’s working” find others with a common purpose and shared passions. Whether a member’s engagement springs from a lifetime interest, a painful experience, or a commitment to your community, when people find commonalities, it pleases, reassures, and energizes them.

Remember how great it feels when you thought you were the only one but discovered a new connection who shares your thinking?

“You too? I thought I was the only one.”

Why Else This Works

Even if the commonalities among your board members are slim (unlikely), learning why others joined benefits your board’s work. It builds respect.

It frames future comments, frustrations, and recommendations. For instance, during a heated discussion, the board chair asks, “You’re passionate about helping the children of this city. The story I’m telling myself is that your resistance to the Baltimore expansion is that the children here might be shortchanged. Is that correct?”

You can quickly grow a board of directors that works well together. Start with their stories. At your next meeting, ask your directors to share why they said “Yes” to serving on your board. Help them connect so they can spend more time providing your nonprofit the support it needs and love your nonprofit even more.

For a board exercise that can speed up your agenda, read Make Progress on a Board Goal in 5 Minutes. To discover more about designing effective board meetings, watch Crafting a Kick-Ass Board Agenda.

Need more help with your board? Karen is available for a mini-consult, Board Rx, and more. Click here to email or here to set a chat time.


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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