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How to Craft a Nonprofit Board Orientation Strategy

HandstandOrientation matters; otherwise, everything can become unbalanced and out of whack.

Please don’t leave your new (or old for that matter) board members dangling!

Being a board member is not something we’re generally taught. In fact, it can be a complete mystery. Folks feel proud to have been recruited to join your board, and excited to begin their service, but… what happens next can mean the difference between a fulfilling experience and a disappointing one.

Do you have a board orientation strategy?

I don’t just mean in a dusty handbook somewhere on a shelf or in a file no one can find. I mean a vibrant orientation approach that kicks in the moment your board candidate says “yes” and, subsequently, as soon as they’re voted in by the full board.

Recruitment is just the tip of the iceberg of building an effective board.

It’s an important “tip,” don’t get me wrong. And all too often it’s handled poorly, leading to nothing but problems down the line. One of the most common complaints I hear from nonprofit staff is their board won’t help with fundraising. And the most common reason is the board members tell me: “I wasn’t told I’d have to help with fundraising,” or even worse “I was told I didn’t have to fundraise.”  Don’t put yourself in this bait and switch mode.

From the get-go, explain to prospective board members what’s expected of them.

All should be involved in some way in giving and getting. Once they sign on, solidify this agreement and their critical role as ambassadors, advocates and askers during the orientation process. Most board members are good people who genuinely want to help. They just need your support and encouragement along the way.

What to Include in a Board Member Orientation

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How Do You Keep Former Nonprofit Board Members Engaged?

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Sustain the positive energy of love and connection

Are you throwing your former board members out like yesterday’s trash? You are if you don’t continue to build relationships with them and let them know how special they are.

Every single communication with a former board member should let them know you know who they are. One of the foundations of Penelope Burk’s groundbreaking work in Donor-Centered Fundraising is the finding donors want one thing first and foremost: “Show me that you know me.”

If you treat former board members like they’re toast, don’t be surprised when they start sending you little bread crumbs instead of the whole slice – or loaf – they once sent. People want to be appreciated. It’s just human nature.

Stop blaming board members for stopping loving you. Instead, focus on not stopping to love them!

8 Strategies to Build a Former Board Member Love and Loyalty Strategy

Former board should be one of your top segments for cultivation! They have a deep understanding of your vision, mission and values. For years, they made your nonprofit one of their top philanthropies. They may even have included you in their estate planning!

Former board have numerous connections to your cause; don’t lose them! They may have relationships with staff or even beneficiaries. They also have connections with each other. At one point you were part of their identity and family. You likely have a special place in their heart.

Don’t stop making beautiful music together! Continue to treat them personally, unless they specifically ask you to stop. Don’t simply relegate them to your impersonal e-news mailings or mass annual appeals. Treat them like major donors and develop a love and loyalty strategy that invites them to stay engaged with you, albeit in a new way.

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LEAP Day Resolution: New Nonprofit Board Leadership Model

Tomorrow is “leap day” — that little something extra we’re given every four years, just to slow things down a bit and make February last a bit longer.

Leap day has something in common with nonprofit boards of directors — that little something extra we’re given — volunteers put in charge of the business; something that sometimes has an unfortunate tendency to slow things down and make decision-making take a lot, lot longer than it should.

Sound familiar?

Work in a nonprofit organization for any period of time, and you’re likely to hear yourself or someone else complain:

” My board is driving me nuts! 

When asked by BoardSource, more than 1,000 nonprofit leaders gave nonprofits boards a “B-minus” grade in overall performance. Almost a third of nonprofit CEOs reported being unhappy with their boards’ support of them in their role as leader, and many of these folks were considering leaving their positions.  When it comes to community relations and fundraising, CEOs rated their board members even worse — giving them a C!  This is barely a passing grade.

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Read This if You Know People who Hate Fundraising

If you’re coming at fundraising from the perspective of “no pain, no gain,” I’d like to suggest you reframe your approach.

Especially when it comes to asking individuals, one-to-one, for passionate gifts.

As long as you hate it, you’re never going to be effective.

In fact, if anyone in your organization feels this way, you’re shooting yourself in the foot.

Why?

Because… (I really hate to break this to you)…

Donors can tell.

When donors can sense you’d rather be doing anything else than asking them for a gift, guess what happens?  They follow your lead!  In other words, they feel like they’d rather be doing anything else than making a gift.

Uh, oh.  How can you change this equation?

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How to Handle Nonprofit Boards Who Won't Play Nice

Recently I posed the question “To board or not to board?

It was meant to be rhetorical. To get you to think about what may/may not be working with your board. And/or with the board’s relationship with your E.D. And/or with your board’s engagement with fundraising. Because unless you’ve got smooth sailing in these regards, it’s going to be difficult to “Dive the 5” Fundamentals I’m encouraging you to focus on this year.

Ah, pre-conditions. They’ve always got to be in place. First.

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Leap Day Nonprofit Dilemma: To Board or Not to Board

My board is driving me nuts!

Today is “leap day” — that little something extra we’re given every four years, just to slow things down a bit and make February last a bit longer.

Leap day has something in common with nonprofit boards of directors — that little something extra, volunteers put in charge of the business, that has an unfortunate tendency to slow things down and make decision-making take a lot, lot longer than it usually should.

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7 Proven Keys to Inspire Nonprofit Boards to Lead and Give

My first year as a nonprofit fundraiser was before social media, cell phones, email, computers and even FAX machines. I had never heard the term “information overload” and I wasn’t distracted by interruptions every five minutes.  Why do I mention this?

Because in today’s fast-paced world we are often so bombarded with bells, whistles and flashing lights that we lose sight of the basics. We lose focus.

Back in the day, I focused.

My number one focus was our board of directors. I knew that before we could get others to give, the board needed to give. Passionately.

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