Board of Directors, Constituent Engagement

Engaging Board Members from Day 1

Your board members want to be actively engaged in your organization. They agreed to be on your board because they believe in your mission, and all that they ask from the institution is to be kept informed and to do meaningful work, while being properly appreciated.

Research has shown that when individuals have a negative board experience, their giving may drop or even cease. A negative board experience includes their service wasn’t what they expected it to be; meetings weren’t organized well; their opinions weren’t asked for or valued; and their time wasn’t well used.

The best way to determine how to steward these high-level volunteers is to have a formal orientation program. The orientation should include: a brief history of the organization, organizational structure, the role of the board, review of the budget and strategic direction of the organization, and a tour of the facilities. The orientation should be conducted by the president/executive director with assistance from the Chairman of the Board and anyone else that is appropriate, such as the CFO.

At the conclusion of the orientation, survey each new member to determine how they want to use their talents to advance the mission of the organization. Once the survey has been reviewed, schedule a 30 minute face-to-face meeting or telephone call. During this meeting, discuss with the board members how they can be actively involved with your organization and how it matches up to their survey responses.

During their term, it is essential that you continually engage with your board members. Send them regular insider communications and invite them to campus for special events. The goal is to make them feel like VIPs of the institution, but not to go overboard and have them think that all you care about is their bank accounts.

On a yearly basis, review with board members on how they want to stay engaged with the organization and areas of the organization that they would like to learn more. This way, you can make sure that your high-end volunteers are being stewarded properly.

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