February 6, 2014

You Can Help Your Board Work Better Together

A board working better togetherYou want your board’s support. You want them to work together well. What works? Could you help them to know each other? Help them learn if they can trust each other? Over time most of your directors will learn to trust each other. You can accelerate this process. As trust grows, your meetings will become more productive and, in time, more effective providing resources for your nonprofit. Most importantly, long-term, the board of directors will become a sub-community with deep and enduring connections to your nonprofit.

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

How might you start fulfilling this grand 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 brings them to the table? What draws them to this nonprofit? Why did you say “yes” to being on the board?

Directors who share conversations about “why I am here” find people with whom they share purpose and passion. A member’s involvement might spring 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 think you are alone but discover, “You too? I thought I was the only one.” Even if commonalities are slim, learning why others belong to the group benefits your members. It builds respect and clarifies future comments, frustrations, and recommendations.

How Does Finding Out Why People Are Serving Help?

For instance, after a heated discussion, the board chair says, “I remember you shared that you are passionate about helping the children of this city. I’m guessing your concern about expansion to Baltimore is that the children here might be shortchanged? Is that correct?”

Accelerate growing a board of directors that works together well. Start with their stories. Get  these shared. At your next meeting, ask your directors to share why they said “Yes” to serving on your board. Help them work together to provide your nonprofit support it needs and for them love your nonprofit even more.

For another board exercise, read Make Progress on a Board Goal in 5 Minutes. For 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 time to chat.

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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