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Worcester Area Women in Development. __________________ Managing & Motivating Volunteers on Boards & Committees ___________________ Charles S. (Chick) Weiss, Ph.D. College of the Holy Cross. A Few Ways to Engage Board Members.

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worcester area women in development

Worcester Area Women in Development

__________________

Managing & Motivating Volunteers

on Boards & Committees

___________________

Charles S. (Chick) Weiss, Ph.D.

College of the Holy Cross

a few ways to engage board members

A Few Ways to Engage Board Members

The Golden Rule: Board members are human beings—albeit very important ones—but they are just like you and me.

Thus, the same things that get you interested, committed and engaged in an activity or organization will work for them.

So, here are a few very simple ideas THAT WORK because they affect human emotions.

a few ways to engage board members1

A Few Ways to Engage Board Members

1. Take board members to the front lines of what your organization does . . . so that one’s relationship to and understanding of the organization is more than via pie charts, flow charts, financial statements, audits and annual reports. The mission needs to be in their minds, hearts and guts.

Examples: Go to a house fire, a cancer center, a homeless shelter, a research laboratory, a classroom, a food bank, a sheltered workshop, etc. (provided, of course, that issues of confidentiality, etc. are not violated).

Your examples?

a few ways to engage board members2

A Few Ways to Engage Board Members

2. Ask each board member to prepare a written, passionate statement regarding his/her commitments to the organization to be published on (e.g.) the web site and/or in the electronic or paper newsletter.

Look at the following 

a few ways to engage board members3

A Few Ways to Engage Board Members

3. Begin the first board meeting of the year with personal introductions that include: “Why I chose to be a member of this board.” This can be a good ice-breaker, but can be a window into one’s motivations.

Let’s try it now !

a few ways to engage board members4

A Few Ways to Engage Board Members

4. In (e.g.) development committee meetings, ask each member to discuss: “Why I donate to my capacity” or “Why I gave to the capital campaign.” Such internal talks can lead members to speak publically about their commitments.

Let’s try it now !

a few ways to engage board members5

A Few Ways to Engage Board Members

5. Have a fun, off-site activity where board members and some staff members can “let down their hair” and just be themselves. Good things always come from (e.g., in my own case) shooting pool [with a few drinks], or playing cards, or golfing, or making pasta or ice cream, or going to a Holy Cross basketball game, etc.

Your ideas?

a few ways to engage board members6

A Few Ways to Engage Board Members

6. Have each board member develop an “elevator speech” and present it to the group.

OR

Practice a “Did you know . . . ?” sentence describing an interesting tidbit about your organization. Let’s try it now. I”ll start it.

how can you transform good will toward and emotional connectedness to your organization into action
How can you transform good will toward and emotional connectedness to your organization into ACTION ?

More specifically: How do development staff members help the board and volunteers actuallycomplete the work they've

agreed to do?

transforming good will into action
Transforming good will into ACTION

THE COMMITMENT: "I'll get a great gift for the auction.”  

THEN: Weeks go by and nothing happens except—all parties are uncomfortable.

SOLUTION: Staff members can offer to:

  • Fill out the donation form for them, which they can sign. 
  • Draft a request letter for them to send out. 
  • Make a follow up phone call to the place they've asked to donate. 
  • Your suggestions?
transforming good will into action1
Transforming good will into ACTION

THE COMMITMENT: “I'll draft a new gift policy for the board to consider.”

THEN: Weeks go by and nothing happens except—all parties are uncomfortable.

SOLUTION:

  • Offer to summarize the conversation and then email the summary to the volunteer to get him/her started. 
  • Follow up in a week to see if you can offer other assistance.
  • Your suggestions?
transforming good will into action2
Transforming good will into ACTION

THE COMMITMENT: “I'll get a table of friends to come with me to your fund-raising gala.” 

THEN: Weeks go by and nothing happens except—all parties are uncomfortable.

SOLUTION:

  • email or phone the volunteer with more information about the evening. 
  • Ask them for the list of guests joining them at their table. 
  • Encourage them that it will be a wonderful event for your cause and for their friends. 
  • Your suggestions?
transforming good will into action3
Transforming good will into ACTION

THE COMMITMENT: "I'll make phone calls.”

THEN: Weeks go by and nothing happens except—all parties are uncomfortable.

SOLUTION:

  • Make sure you've both agreed a date by which those calls will be made. 
  • Make sure you've given the volunteer the phone number, email address and giving history of the people they are to call. 
  • Don't overburden them, or let them overburden themselves with too many names.  Three is usually a reasonable number. 
  • Follow up and ask them for feedback from the calls.
  • Your suggestions?
transforming good will into action4
Transforming good will into ACTION

Begin with:

  • Bite-sized tasks versus massive projects.
  • Tasks that can definitely be achieved.
  • Short, agreed-upon timetables.
  • Work in teams.

Then:

  • Follow up, summarize, recognize and thank.
  • Success breeds continued success and moving on to more and larger tasks.
transforming good will into action5
Transforming good will into ACTION

Boards need new members to renew creativity and prepare for the future:

  • New technologies
  • New ideas
  • New circle of friends, businesses, connections
  • New levels of enthusiasm