[sounds like 00:22:19] has a question. Is “operationally distant” a good thing? It depends on the maturity level of your organization Pasquale. If you are a small start-up organization, you probably need board members to be doing some of the doing with planning events and checking some of your equipment out. Maybe even creating and putting together the financial report for a board meeting.
The truth is that operational work, that hands-on work should lessen as you are more mature in an organization and the more staff you have. The great question.
But we do want board members to be governing. That means taking a look at the overall, if you’ve got one, a strategic plan, direction that we’re headed, and participate in these seven ways.
So I’ll take you through number two and beyond here. Invite others to give something. Most people find it more comfortable to invite others to give their time or even their advice. For many, asking for money is the hardest thing, and the truth is most people find it the hardest to give their time. So knowing that we can participate in development by asking for other things.
Number three is, act as a true ambassador and advocate. Now we have to teach them how to do that, and I mean really be an ambassador and advocate. On my website a couple of months ago I wrote a blog post about a scavenger hunt for board members.
At any events you have whether it’s the annual meeting, the golf tournament, the gala, a graduation ceremony, let your board members who are attending that events know who a couple of donors are that will be also attending. Everyone gets two different names and our job is to go say hello and thank them for being supporters of our organization.
Now board members are getting a chance to do some of that stewardship work. They’re seeing the faces of your supporters, they’re more engaged and guess what? So are your donors or your volunteers. Thanking recent happy donors is . . . I’m going to have Steven do that for you. Tony, he’ll repeat the definition of development and he’ll just type it in, I think into the box there for us. Thanks, Steven.
Thanking recent happy donors is one of the best ways to increase donor retention, it’s one of the best ways to have new relationships build up, that last for many years. The first thing though, is timing is critical.
I went to a tour of a facility, an organization here in the twin cities a couple weeks ago and part of what they’re doing is having monthly little open houses inviting supporters in, but I had been teaching them to make a phone call the day afterwards to ask, “What did I think?” “Do I want to be involved in any way?” “Do I have any advice for them? And just thanking me. I haven’t gotten my call yet, so I have this list of information I wanted to share with them about my tour, my experience, and I haven’t really been able to tell it to anybody. So I kind of lost my enthusiasm or passion.
Here’s the thing, when a board member says thank you to a first-time donor their second gift is 39% higher.
Wow, all that’s different, this is research from Penelope Burk, all that’s different is the board member called that person and thank them, their second gift is almost 40% higher, and two years later 70% of those donors are still giving.
Now donor retention is at about 30% or so. It’s not great. If you can increase gifts by almost 40% and keep them sticking around, 70% of those donors sticking around you can absolutely increase your bottom line. Now your board members become fundraisers, without even having to ask for money.
So I say building a relationship for loyalty by causing thank you calls to be made right at the board meeting. I have a lot of opinions about what should happen at your board meeting and one of them is two make thank you call for five minutes.
Literally everyone gets their phone out and you get two names of people to call or one name of people to call, and we call and say thank you to that person, that’s it.
If we noticed that they’re actually feeling engaged in a conversation. Ask the question, “Why did you give in the first place?” But really it’s merely to have that person feel great about their gift.
Number five. Another webinar, another day to teach you how to have board members share powerful stories. But have your board members know stories about your clients. Stories about why you do your work whether you’re advocacy organization, human service organization, education organization, you’re saving the whales or the trees or the humane society. Have your board members know about a person whose life is different because of your work.
Share your funding gap. So I call your funding gap. You want your board members to know what the dollars are that you project in expenses subtract away what you’ve received from grants, fees for service, contributions. Anything else that you got in the door as of today, and know that number and be able to share that with the community. The truth is, most board members don’t know where you’re at until the end of the year when you send out that appeal letter.
Let me see there’s a couple of questions. “If you miss that window of when thank you calls should be made, should you still call?” Yes. What I like to say if I make a call this much later Monica is, “We haven’t been doing a great job of keeping track of the support that we’ve had. Our database maybe hasn’t been able to support that. But our board is really committed, so we’re calling today.” You might want to have a “Thank-a-thon” with as many volunteers and donors and board members as possible, and call a lot of people at one time so you can catch up.
Liz says, “Some of our board members complain about making phone calls and writing notes to thank donors.” Well, the very best way I’d say to motivate them is to show them this data. You’ve got 40% higher disks coming in when we make phone calls that are simply a thank you call, and we’ve got donors sticking around twice as long.
Lindsay says, “Then maybe you want to think about having new board members.” Sometimes that’s the case. Sometimes we want to make sure that board members are rotating off.
But, knowing that part of their job is to support our current donor pool. So knowing those numbers that funding gaps. Number seven is to hold ourselves accountable for what we said we would do in the first place.
So I’ve got the recap list here for you, but here’s the thing, please do not print this list out and run to your board and say, “Here’s what Lori said you should all be doing.” That’s not what the list is for. What I’d like you to do is print the list out and bring to your board meeting and say, “You know one of these seven things would you all take on? If we know these are ways that will affect our bottom line, what is it? Picking a minimum of three. What are the ones we can take on this year?” That’s how I’d recommend using that data, that information.
All right. So worksheet section number four. The question that I have for you on section four. Let me just to switch to sharing my screen again here. All right. So section four is: Board members assist with and participate in fund developments. And those are the six ways you have combined number five into two actively sharing your money story and your people story.
So number one, “they all make a personal gift”. Yes or no? “They invite others to give time, talent, stuff, or money”. Yes or no? Just type into the box how many yeses and noes.
Number three, “we invite people into the organization and act as an ambassador”. Yes or no? “We thank recent happy donors, via phone or personal note”. Yes or no? “We all participate actively in some area of raising awareness, so sharing our people story, sharing our money story”. Yes or no? And “our board members called each other accountable”. Yes or no? All right. So what are your yeses and noes totals?
We’ve got a lot of noes, a lot of noes. I’m wondering is that two on yeses or noes. All right. So the truth is we’ve got some work to do in letting them know some ways that they can participate.
I love it that you’ve got . . . some of you have five out of six, four out of six. That’s great. You’re doing some good work in communication, but there’s some improvements. So I’m going to talk just for a moment about whose job it is to recruit new board members, and again probably another longer sessions for another day.
The main thing is you want to know what you’re looking for as an organization. Not just thoughtfully as a staff, but as an entire organization. I have an eBook. I’ll give you a link to download this free eBook at the end of this session. But in the eBook there’s a bunch of tools that I’m going to reference now and one of those tools is a board matrix. This matrix you may use already. You may have something where you list all the board members’ names down the bottom.
Then you list things like their affiliation, maybe they’re in the medical field, maybe they’re an attorney, maybe they work at a bank, then some skills and expertise. Some people have better public-speaking skills even if they are at their office desk all day, everyday.
So you want to make sure to fill in this document that you’ll be able to download. You can fill in yourself, there’s some demographic, you want to fill in some age range. So then, say you put Lori’s name in and you start to X in, “Oh, she’s got some public speaking skills.” Or “Oh, she knows something about fundraising and she’s female and she’s 102 years old.”
So now we know a little bit about this person. Sorry, this should have all been on that line. But here’s the two questions I want you to ask when you use a matrix like this. Because this matrix isn’t helpful just to figure out who you need, based on empty space. You want to ask these two questions: “What are the three most important things for a board to accomplish this year?” What if you ask your board that? What would they say? Is it different from what you would say and, “Do we have the right people on the board to make that happen?”
I believe this works, filling out this matrix is the nominating committee or the governance committee along with your executive director. Doing the due diligence of filling out the board matrix and then asking these questions of the full board. So then we can start to see what are our top three most important things.
We have a capital campaign. We should all be talking about our work. We should all be giving. We should all be inviting people to the hardhat tour, that might be it. Maybe it’s strategic planning. Maybe it’s hunting for new executive director. But do we have the very right people on the board to make that happen?
The needs of your organization change over time, and the truth is you want to make sure that your clear where you’re at today. What the responsibilities are for joining the board? They aren’t the same year after year after year, and you want to reward the behavior that you’re seeking. So you want to do some things visually. You want to maybe have a bar graph of who’s doing what. There’s other kinds of governance scorecard that you can have.
Watch for who’s doing the work exactly the way you want it. Amy, the question you’re asking. “How does the development director play a role in the board selection?” So I’m going to answer it two ways.
One is, you’ve got a really engaged board asking these questions really deeply, thoroughly, and your executive director is your partner. Then the truth is, you won’t need to be that involved because they’re going to know what your needs are in the development department. They will seek out candidates that will be helpful. The truth is that’s not always the case and that’s often not the case.
So then I say leadership in on your staff, you want to submit some names as well, but you want to have them fit into this criteria. We don’t want all of our board members to be great fundraisers, we want some of them to know strategic planning and risk management and some of those other things. I hope that helps a little bit.
So let’s go into the next section on just what is it you want from the board and how do you tell them that? It’s our job to be the GPS for our board members. To provide some clear and very easy to follow direction. I’m going to bring up the PDF, the eBook, that I’ve got for you because I’m going to show you a little bit about what I mean for, what is it that we want to have happen? How do we talk to our board members.
So this will be the worksheet that I’m going to share with you on the screen. Just a moment here. All right. Share my desktop. Okay.
This is a sample board agreement that’s in the eBook that you can use. I’ve got two different versions. This is a little more formal one. This one says, “I recognize the organization’s ability to change lives is fueled by our success in raising funds and support of our programs and operations.
Likewise, as a community volunteer in a leadership role, I acknowledge a personal responsibility to contribute to the cause that I support. The assistance I provide may take varying forms.
Regardless of their nature my contributions will be personally significant. “
I am not a fan of saying, “Every board member has to give $1,000 – raise or find $1,000.” I like to leave it to them to decide because sometimes they leave money on the table or you will miss out on a great board member because they can’t meet that dollar threshold.
“As a board member of the organization, I pledge to the organization, and to my fellow directors, I will fulfill the basic board member agreements and additional commitments I have indicated below.
So for this organization their basic agreements are make a financial contribution, serve as a table host and recruit others. Participate actively on that committee, subcommittee and they have four at this organization. And then I agree to fulfill four additional volunteer duties by participation in fund development as noted on the following page.”
So I’ve packed as much as I can on here for you. Major gift, annual campaign, proposals, event. Not all of this is giving money, some of it might be drafting articles or personal story for your newsletter. Some of it might be hosting a needing. Some of it might be serving as a table host or writing an acknowledgement letter. I get to choose the four or more, but this is where staff comes in and we keep track of work being done.
Yes, it’s some work, but you want to create a Google doc or a Dropbox folder or something. So it’s easy to manage the information, but they’re giving you the information. And then that report is given to your fund-development chair or your board chair. So it can be shared at each meeting. Did we do what we said what we’re going to do?
The second form or menu of engagement here, is an all you can eat menu, it says, “Please choose any items as you like, but at least one per category.” So this has got appetizers, entrees and desserts. It’s very light and fun. You would customize this to make it your own.
Make thank you calls to 10 donors. Notice that making a financial gift is requested by everyone.
So it’s all you can eat menu, but at least one per category and that might be the one in that category for me. So those are couple of examples. You’ve probably got some as well. I like to make sure that no kidding, we are helping our board members to decide what their gifts and talents are, so they can give those in adequate appropriate way that causes them to feel great about their engagement.
This article. I’m just going to go through it very quickly. You want to check out the bit.ly link here are. The link to this article is, when it’s a bit.ly link here, it is a case sensitive link. “The Best Board Meeting I Ever Attended” is an article by Les Wallace. He has written a nice article that struck me, it sort of knocked me upside my head when I read it the first time. It talks about the monthly meeting being online at least 10 days prior to the physical meeting.
So there’s a place I can go download all of the materials that are part of the consent agenda. It includes the CEO report, updates from key staff members. But my job as a board member, because everyone told me and everyone is doing this, is to read that whole consent agenda ahead of time, so that we’re only be taking about five minutes to ask any questions about the consent agenda to make sure people have read it, you’re voting on it, you’re approving it.
Then, you move into the rest of your meeting. The meeting agenda has the most important business and strategic issues first. I cannot tell you how many board meetings I’ve gone to where fundraising is last, and nobody wants to talk about it or look at it. We look at financials for 30, 40, 20 minutes and we don’t get to talk about how to raise the money to change the financials. So you don’t have to have “old business”, “new business” any of that. The issues are listed in descending order of discussion time and importance.
Number three is to have some dashboard financials. And I’ll show you a couple of examples of those in a moment, But to have me look at one page of information versus a whole lot of Excel spreadsheets. Sometime in the meeting maybe 10 minutes is spent, every board meeting, on board succession. This is where the governance committee will talk a little bit about who our candidates are, that we bring board members on once a year, but we’ve got a couple of open spots right now. Here’s the list of people. Or we’re looking for some other people. But we’re always talking about board succession.
Then we want to make sure that when we’re following the format of a consent agenda, tight meeting agenda, it reduces some of that drifting off into, “What color should the invitations have?”. . . the font have on the invitations? and things that aren’t really important for the board to be discussing.
Executive summaries always make it much easier to just dive into the high points, the 30,000 level feet, of whatever it is you’re talking about versus the three page document with numbers and graphs.
Making sure that we’re having some strategic dialogue. This is about 30 minutes into your agenda and it means we concluded our oversight business. We’ve talked a little bit about how we’re raising those dollars and what our job is. This is where, 45 minutes of your board meeting, if it’s spent talking relevant strategies, the progress on the campaign, the capital campaign, new data, new programming.
The conversation is about generating thoughts and ideas, that’s what the board’s role is, and I believe we get stuck in the other part. The checking off of, “Yeah financials are done.” “Yeah, we have attendance coming to the golf tournament and so on.”
Number eight. Is there 10 to 15 minutes spent each board meetings to teach me something. You don’t have to put “board training” on there, but maybe 10 or 15 minutes where we talk about, “what is risk management and why is it important that we pay attention to it?”
Then in this article, Les talked about really wrapping up each board meeting with asking a couple of open ended questions. Three that he recommends, one of them, “Are you leaving the meeting confident in the overall performance of our organization?” Wow. “Did you feel you had ample opportunity for input?” Great question. “Would you change anything for future meetings?”
So know that you can go read the article later. It’s a terrific piece to start a discussion about what might change at our board meetings.
Self assessment. Before I show you this document, I just want to say, “Self assessment on figuring out what it is we should be doing?” We want to have self assessment to prepare for a board retreat. So asking questions about how we’re doing. We want to have our own assessment when we’re having some sort of change in our structure or a new executive director. In preparation for strategic planning. Every two years as a way to monitor our progress in our board development.
So let me share my screen one more time with you. What I’d like to have is, this is an example of self-assessment, so here’s the question. “How confident are you the board as a whole currently contains an appropriate range of expertise and diversity to make an effective governing body?”
“How confident are you that the board as a whole orients new members properly, so they can hit the ground running?” You could have this be a SurveyMonkey. You can have it be a printed document. You could have it be anonymous. Or I prefer, in assessments that we’re actually telling who we are. There’s 11 questions here for you that you could use to start to create yours or simply use this one. Again it’s an editable document, so you can fill in information there if you like to.
Okay. Let’s go back.
Board orientation. Powerful, powerful how we on-board is making a huge difference. So just a quick poll question for you and have you fill it on the screen. “Do you have a board orientation process?” Go ahead and click right on the screen the yes or no button there.
Not in the box actually. You want to go right up on the screen. You can use your mouse and click on that button. The “yes” button or the “no” button, and we’ll show the results right on the screen there for everybody. Great. Give you another second or two. Wow, I’m surprised. It’s about 50/50. A few more, a few more. I’m going to close it out here in five, four, three, two, one. All right, I’m going to close the poll there. You can see about 53% of you do have an orientation process. About 47% of you don’t.
Again in the eBook there’s some things I talk about, you want to have just an hour meeting to start. Please don’t make it a long meeting. I love it if your board orientation is run by your board member. A board chair. Yes, the executive directors are absolutely there, but establish accountability right away with me as the board chair running that meeting.
Have the meeting be at a program location or somewhere other than where the board meetings are held and make sure your orientation packet isn’t three inches thick. Have a list of what I recommend putting in your orientation packet.
“So this webinar is the beginning of what may be our new board orientation process.” Love it, Tony, love it.
Some things to focus on. Immerse your mission into each meeting especially the board orientation. So do I get to meet someone whose life is different? Do I watch a quick video clip? Do you help me understand how to talk about the organization? Assign me a buddy, a “board buddy” that’s been on the board for a while, and they follow up with me after each meeting for at least the first three months of my service.
So in the eBook there’s a longer explanation of what can go in your orientation packet. How to have a powerful meeting? Just know that the first time I step foot into your organization, usually, is that orientation. You want it to be whoever said they were going to be there is there. We start the meeting on time no matter who’s there on time.
We’ve modeled the kind of behavior that we want to have happen throughout my board experience.
Talk a little bit here about communication. So if you want me to share information, you’ve got to tell me what you want me to share. So talk about the impact you’re making. The why of how you do your work. But don’t forget when you’re talking about those people stories, to tell me what it costs per week, per month, per year.
I had someone, a CEO, at a board retreat that we had held together, an action planning session. This is now a couple of years ago. She explained to the board that there was some issue and we were going to cut back on some benefits and in fact we didn’t have a 401k, and the health care benefits were going to have to be pared back.
One of the people on the board is an HR manager and she said, “There’s no way our 40 employees cannot have a good benefit package. What will it cost? And she named the dollar amount. I think it’s a $175,000, to do some specific things with this package.
And Joanne, the woman who is the HR board member said, “Somehow, someway I will take on within my HR community, raising those dollars. I am not a fundraiser, but I am committed to having an organization that I serve on have a great benefit package.”
So talking about cost doesn’t always mean asking. It just bringing awareness and allowing your board members to decide, how will they participate?
Communication, it’s got to be personal. You got to find a way to listen that’s why I’m asking you questions and having you type in. Not just me talking at you. You want to have those assessment time where we’re asking for feedback because communication is both talking and listening. Then you want to share stories. You want to talk about things that you want me to share out to the community.
You can read it a little bit later, but in May 2013 I wrote a blog post based on Sam Pettway’s, “Five Questions Every Board Member Should Ask”. I like it if you do this question process at a retreat or an action-planning session. Then print it on the back of the name placard that’s sitting right in front of me. Maybe there’s the mission printed at the back of the name-tent and there’s these five questions.
“Why are we here? How do we define success? How can this board be of most value to the organization? What behavior are we settling for? What five things should we track?” Great questions to have deep thorough discussion about either in that 45 minutes in strategic discussion at your board meeting, or at an action planning session or spread out over the course of the year.
So if we’re tracking something, what is it that we should be tracking? For sure you’re almost always tracking your fundraising goal, but this is a common mistake I see. This chart doesn’t tell us much. It doesn’t tell us when this is happening. It doesn’t tell us how much is left to raise. And it doesn’t tell us how much time there is to reach the goal.
So while this might not be as pretty it’s more helpful. This chart will actually tell us, as of November 1st we have to raise $381,000 to the end of the year and we still have 110 left, 110 . . . 490 that’s our gap number. We prorated that so we know if we were on track what we had raised and we know what the actual is. So showing data that’s helpful.
Another example for you. We always look at budget, right? So what’s our revenue in the door. Revenue actual to budget variance. This doesn’t tell me anything. It doesn’t get me very excited. But this view of the same data, if you keep the budget zero, now I see, as a board member, way easier. Whoa, something happened in week eight or month eight. What was it and how do we do more of this? How you give me information is helpful to how I’m able to help you.
A great example, a resource for you is Blue Avocado, they have an article about nonprofit dashboards and signal lights. So they take you through the nine areas that an organization has setup using a document that showed the red. So we need to ask them something if it’s shown red. We need to watch it, if it’s shown in yellow. We should celebrate because we’re on track, if we’re showing it in green.
But they have different items for fundraising, HR, programming. It’s a great way to not spent too much time poring over the numbers, but to be having a discussion about the very things that are relevant to us.
All right. So this is a governance scorecard that shows some activity on attendance. So we have actual attendance versus the targeted attendance. We’ve also got events participation. Don’t you all have events you want me to attend? Keep track of attendance. Visibility. This organization said, “We want board members to be speaking out in the community on our behalf.” They kept track of how they did each year. Then gifts and pledges for board members year to year, five years in a row is nice because we can then start to see it growing.
I would be remiss if I didn’t talk about donor retention on a Bloomerang webinar, when Bloomerang does some of the best help with their database in helping you calculate your donor retention. You want to know and you want your board to wonder what is our donor retention? How many of our donors, first time and ongoing donors are we keeping?
You want your percentage to be somewhere north of 50. Most people are down here in the 30% or below place. You also want to know how many new donors are you acquiring and you don’t want your new-donor acquisition to be going down. You want your new-donor acquisition to be going and you want your attention to be going up. So some great visuals changed up your board packet and what you’re showing me.
Just some key financial measures. How you show them. You know we have to talk about cash, assets, debts, and working capital. But you want to show them over time not just static. Rather than looking at a report like this which shows some good financial management. Cash investment, accounts receivable. This is what the finance committee should be looking at.
We can be looking at it like this as a board. Number of days of cash on hand. That’s a helpful number to know, and we changed since 2009 down to 2011. So what is it that we need to be doing differently. This is a governance discussion now.
Another way to look at your financials is to show the income dynamics in a way that has me know we should be making some changes. So this organization knew that there contributed, actually their state support was starting to drop. From 2009 to 2010 they saw a big drop.
They projected it out and noticed, “Well, we’ve got some fundraising that we need to make up.” The two places that we can make that up is in our contributed income that’s unrestricted and our contributed income that is restricted. Because we have about tapped out on what our earned income is going to be. This led for a great discussion with the board on how do we start to restructure ourselves a little bit.
So my motto and some of you have heard me say this before, “Is it 100% staff responsibility for board members to be great but it’s 100% board members responsibility to do what we said we do.”
So let’s take a quiz. Just a quick, quick, quick top quiz. And you can just type in yes or no right into the box. Vinnie said,”Not only donor retention rather to identify the new potential donors or donor cultivation.” You know that would be in the fundraising committee, Vinnie, not necessarily at the full board level.
The full board wants to see the 30,000 level feet, which would be the overall donor retention. And yes, the fund development or fundraising committee should be focused on acquisition.
I’ve got a few questions for you, you can answer them just in yes, no question box and or on your worksheet. They’re all yes, no answers.
So “the board signs and annual board agreement that clearly spells out what the expectations are for participation other than attending meetings.” Yes or no? Just go ahead and type in to the question chat box there. Not annually. Lot’s of yeses. And I would say we’re about 50/50. I like that, the cultivation committee, that’s great.
All right. So question number two. So maybe we want to put 2 dash, and then your yes or no. “Our board members know they’re expected to assist with development effort.” I didn’t say they are, I just said they know. A lot of yeses. Not everybody. All right.
Number three. So 3 dash. “I’m certain our staff provides their board with data and support to be a good board member”. “Sometimes”. Good answer. “Yes, we provide good data.” A lot of you are saying yes, but a lot of you said, “The board isn’t doing what they need to be doing.” So if you don’t have take steps – that would be you as the volunteer is doing that most of the time. All right.
Question number four. “One hundred percent of our board makes an annual financial gift”. So number four. Yes or no? A lot of noes, some yeses. All right. Very good.
Number five. “Our board members regularly share compelling stories about our impact.” Good, a lot of high numbers. A lot of yeses.
Number six. “Our board members understand and share information about our funding gap”. This one is probably going to be mostly no because you don’t know what it is or it hasn’t been shared before.
Number seven. “Our board conducts regular self assessments to measure their own effectiveness.” Not yet. A few of you. Many noes. You’ve got a tool to help them do that.
My goal today was to provide you some tools to help your board do their job with ease, but also to have you know what it is they might need from a different lens to be looking at your work from a different lens.
Would you type in one thing that you learned and anything you might change to create a more effective board before we wrap up here. I’d like to read a couple of them off. While you’re typing in what you learned and what you might change, I’ll just share with you a couple of resources for you.
You can stay in touch with me a variety of ways. There is a free eBook here and it is, “Nine Steps to a Successful Fundraising Campaign” it’s got a new story telling system. You can always find me on social media. But here’s the link for the free Mission Possible eBook, it is a bit.ly link. It’s bloomerangmissionpossible and that is case sensitive, so it’s all lowercase.
All right. So let me read off to you: “Learn how to get board engaged in development”. Love that. Let me see some more. “I will share these concept with our board and educate them”. Let’s see.
“Executive director needs to be a better communicator with the board. So part of our job will be to teach them how to do that. I learned not to ask board members to fund raise”. Love it, love it, love it.
“We just ask for financial information”. “I’ll share this list”. “I can examine some of the visuals to create different visuals for our organization”. “Going to roll out a board member commitment form”. Find a partner to help you do that, Joel. Some great thoughts. Thank you. Well you’re welcome and thank all of you.
There’s a lot of resources that my goal was, to give you resources that you can use immediately. Remember you want to be a partner with your board. You want to support them. Greatness isn’t in the function of circumstance, largely it’s a matter of conscious choice and discipline. So the discipline we put in, as staff and board leadership can make a huge difference.
All right. Steven, I went over my time but it’s back to you.
Steven: That was great, Lori. No worries. I appreciate everyone sticking around. Lori, do you have time for questions? I know it’s a little bit over two o’clock, but I . . .
Lori: I will stick around. Absolutely. Yes.
Steven: Okay. Great.
If folks don’t mind going a little bit over the two o’clock hour, we can hang out for maybe 15 minutes for questions. So if you have some questions feel free to send them in. I will sending the link to the eBook, as well as the recording, the slides, the worksheet. I will send everything. I promise you, you will not miss a thing.
Lori, I know you answered questions, kind of, as we went along, but I did flag a few here in the questions column. So maybe just kind of go through this. Lisa’s wondering, how do you politely ask overbearing board members to dial back on giving opinions on everything? What about some of those overbearing board members?
Lori: Yeah, that’s a great question. So, my hope Lisa is you have a partner on the board that is not one of those overbearing people, that you can have a conversation withm because it would be a peer-to-peer conversation.
So it might be that it’s the fund development person, or your governance chair, or your program chair. It doesn’t matter who it is, but to visit with them and say, “You know we’re not getting as much engagement because it feels like the board is being a bit overshadowed.”
So to have that aside personal conversation and really truly let them manage that discussion off record, not in front of the full board. It’s also modeling great board meeting management.
So if your board chair can say, “Gosh Lori, that’s a great thought you’ve got. We’re going to move along and I’ll visit with you more about that later on.” I’ve learned to do this. I do trainings and speak all the time. I’ve learned to do this because . . . Steven, you probably have too. There’s almost always someone who, kind of, derails the topic with a question or a long comment. I’ve found ways to gently move them on or come put my arm around them and say, “That is an awesome topic. We’re going to move on to the next topic, but thank you for bringing it up.”
Steven: Yeah, that makes a lot of sense.
Lori: Yeah. If you have a small board. We have seven members, should you still have a separate development committee? Yes. You can have one board member or two board members beyond that development committee, and you can have five community members. So absolutely you want to have a separate development committee.
The board is there to do all of those things, those 10-11 things that I talked about at the beginning, and they shouldn’t all be focused on development or fundraising. So they want to be focused on raising awareness, but not fundraising.
Start the process, I’m assuming you mean to sort of engaging the board in a different way, Dawn. You’re saying, what’s the best way to start this. You know one way would be to have them watch this video, another would be to bring the list of ways to be engaged in supporting the organization and development and just have a conversation about it.
I always ask folks to start with one. One person, one conversation, one board member. So they can become the amplification system if you will for how to shift things at your organization. It’s a peer-to-peer thing that works best. I’m pretty willing to bring up topics I’m not too shy, but a lot of times it’s not my goal, it’s not my right, it’s not my place. So I’ll ask a question that causes other people to take on the mantle of moving it forward.
Founder’s syndrome. Julie says, “Best way to overcome founders’ syndrome.” Well, there’s some great readings about founders’ syndrome. Steven if you are game to even remember that, I will dig them out and send them too, so we can maybe post them somewhere for folks, you can make them available.
The thing is to have conversations again. Really, I mean it sincerely, it’s all about how we communicate, so does the founder believe there’s an issue. What are the issues? Is there conversation going on behind his or her back? What is their strength? What is the board member’s strength? What is the founders’ strength? What is the area to be developed?
Having a plan, a succession plan for when that founder isn’t there, that is continually discussed, can help with some of that founders’ syndrome. Then it’s obvious to everyone, it’s clear to everyone that we’re not going to be run by that person forever and we’re making plans to do something different.
Monica says, “What’s the best way to invite my ineffective development committee chair to step down?” You want to find the very right person to have that conversation. It might not be you, it might be a former-board member, it might be a long time donor, it might be another board-member’s spouse. I don’t know who the right person is. But that’s a great, longer discussion, to have with the key leadership at your organization. You know what needs to be done. You know how engaged they need to be.
Some of the language that I recommend using is, “You know Lori, we’ve noticed that the work of our organization – it seems like it’s a bit of a burden with your schedule, you’re traveling a lot, you’re not as engaged.” Or “We’ve got some wrestle of wills [sounds like 01:06:42] on where it appears we want to be going and where the conversation that you’re leading us to go. It feels like it’s time to maybe take a step back. Could we have some discussions about whether being on our board serves you the best, or is there another role that you could play with our organization?”
It’s not an easy conversation and you want to have the very right person do it, but don’t not do it because it’s too hard. I have a mentor of mine who always used to say, “It’s better to pull the band-aid off quickly and have that sting than let it sit on there and get infected and fester and cause a bad organization.” You don’t need or want that. Let’s see what else.
Should you have a marketing committee made up of board members? If you got a large enough board I would say there is PR marketing and fund development and sometimes they are separate. If you’ve got a small board. You don’t want to necessarily have too many committees. Four or five committees is about it. Finance being one of them, governance or nominating, fund development program, and then whatever else you got the capacity for.
Lisa says, “Do you think the major fundraising person of the organization should attend the whole board meeting?” Right now I only stay for my report on fundraising. I think that’s a discussion, determination for you. If your board is a fundraising board, then maybe you need to be there the whole time. But there’s a lot of other things the board does than help. Remember, I don’t believe board members have to fund raise. I believe they should be doing development.
So talking about the fundraising is only a small aspect of the board meeting. That you have a relationship with all the board members is really important. I’m going to leave that answer. Unfold that how it might work for you. I get where you’re going, Lisa. You want to be there hearing what’s going and be a part of the discussion. But they have to have some time to work without us there too.
In a small community with a large number of nonprofits and huge volunteer commitments, how do we find the strategic-board members we crave? Those in accounting and development skills to serve on a working board of an all-volunteer organization. Well, so it’s a whole different webinar, but let me see if I can recap that hour-long webinar in just a couple of seconds here.
One of the tactics I love to see happen is, you bring in a little mini-task force for just one meeting. It could be an hour, one hour and a half. People that you would really love to have on your board, but you’re pretty sure that they’re going to say no. You have the very right person call them. Notice I said “call” not email. Call them and say, “We’d like your advice, on how to expand our board or fill some seats. We are not inviting you to serve. We know that it might not be in your time schedule or your capacity to do that.” You talk about with those holes are.
But remember you’re not just simply looking for names. You want to go back to this matrix and figure out, what are the holes that we have, based on what is the most important thing for our board to accomplish this year. Whatever our board is there to accomplish, are they there supporting the organization’s strategic vision is. So there’s some discussion that has to happen internally.
In a small community I would say think outside the box. Is it a manager of a company versus the owner of a company? Is it someone who’s got a small business, who would look at your work in a way that’s more appropriate because, they live in that small business world where, they probably don’t have a lot of resources either.
Having that hour to hour and half meeting, inviting folks in to help you think through, who could we have on this matrix that we might be inviting? If they’re willing to open the door and make some of those phone calls, it’s a great tactic that bring some outside energy in. I hope that helps. Let’s see.
Sue says, “Any suggestions on how to re-engage a board when they’re overshadowed and overpowered by one member.” We talked about that a little bit. Really having a partner one board member is all it takes, to have accountability built in, to have someone at you’re board meetings willing to say, “I’m sorry, but we have to move on. We’ve got some specific time set aside for the topics at hand and while you’re bringing up some good ideas, Lori, there a little bit off the vision and the agenda that we have set for today’s meeting, so let’s set another time.”
It might be that it’s an ongoing problem and you have to bless and release and thank that person for their board service and say, “It’s not a good fit.” You would let a staff person go if they weren’t fulfilling their duty and obligation. We find it very difficult to let board members go, who aren’t fulfilling their obligation because we don’t want to hurt their feelings at the expense of having an effective powerful board.
Simone Joyaux, J-O-Y, I think it’s A-U-X. Simone has written an article called, “How to Fire Lousy Board Members”. You want to read it. It would be very helpful. She’s very clear spoken. She can help you.
Jim says, “We find that board members are adverse [sic] or reluctant to make the act for fundraising.” Yep, they don’t have to because they don’t know how. So don’t have them do it, Jim.
We change the committee name to cultivation from development and that’s their job really, is to develop relationships or cultivate relationships, it’s not necessarily to ask. What I say, for board members, “Come with me on an ask and I will do the ask. Will you just talk about what you love about the organization?”
I don’t know if you were on at the beginning, Jim, when I said, “I wouldn’t want any of you to have flown the plane home from Boston when I flew home on Tuesday here to Minneapolis, if you didn’t have your pilot’s license.”
So then don’t ask me, as a board member, to make an ask for money unless you’ve trained me, I said, “Yes, I know how to do it.” We’ve gone through art of asking workshop or whatever it is, tools that you’ve got in your community. I know that probably not exactly what you wanted to hear, but there are people in your community, and some on your board, who will help with the ask.
All right. Mike says, “I’m starting from scratch almost entirely new board members, know to find responsibility, where do I start?” Oh, love it. So you need to start at the very beginning and I’m going to just pull up the eBook for a second. You can start with application is the part that is the easiest. In the eBook, hopefully you can see my screen, at the very beginning, there’s a board application. So on the board application you get to start asking me questions about, what are some areas of expertise I have, is it fundraising or not? Is it public policy? Is it technology? Prior board experience.
Start there. Have your board members watch this – your current board members or even a board candidate, watch a segment of this webinar. Make sure they’re filling out thoroughly, and if they have to have a whole another page to tell you what other volunteer commitments they have, probably not your person. You need some people to sort of dig in.
Then create an amazing . . . Scroll down to the orientation process. Then create an orientation process that includes having a board agreement. Tell me how to describe the organization. We are, we specialize in, we help people to do . . . What?
Follow some of the steps that are here and get them engaged in conversation. Get them engaged on what their role is. Take them through the worksheet that we have here. What areas do you need training and support in? What is it that I can do to help you and we do to help you as an organization?
Hopefully that helps a little bit, Mike. You’re actually in a wonderful place because you can build, you can just build from where you are right now.
And Sue, I think this might be the last question. “We have one board member out of six who is outspoken and overbearing, it has brought the energy of the board to stand-still as board member blasts everyone”. So this is a common theme here today. You will have to remove some board members. I have done it, it is probably my least favorite thing, even least favorite over getting a root canal.
I’ve also had a conversation with my fellow board members, or if I’ve been the executive director, I’ve had the conversation with one of them to help in the process. Some of it is to make it as clear as possible what it means to be a board member. That is, reward that behavior of starting and ending on time, not speaking out of turn. Invite other board members to call that person on their behavior, either at the meeting or after the meeting.
The truth is you have a way to create the culture of your organization in a way that causes people to understand how to fit in well. That’s our job, that’s what we do as staff. So if you’re comfortable taking this piece on, you’re going to go talk to another board member, you’re going talk to another colleague and say, “What will it look like? What would the conversation have to be and from whom that conversation have to come from to cause our board to be exceptional?”
That might mean we’re moving, inviting, blessing, and releasing a couple of board members to leave. All right. That’s a tough topic everyone. We can spend a whole day probably talking about that one.
Steven: Yeah, Lori this is awesome. Thanks for hanging out. Thanks for a few extra 20 minutes answering more questions. Is it safe to say that you’ll answer some questions offline as well, when people reach out to you?
Lori: Absolutely. You know it.
Steven: I thought you’d say, “Yes.” Well, thanks everyone else who stuck around and was a good sport, and everyone who was asking questions. Someone said that the Q&A was just as valuable as the actual presentation. Like I said before I will be sending out the recordings, the slides, the eBook, the worksheet. I’ll send everything in case you didn’t get it. Look for an email from me later on this afternoon.
I’ve got some great other resources on the Bloomerang website. You can check out our upcoming webinars, there are some downloadables. We’ve got our video podcast. I would love for you check that out.
Like I said we do these webinars every Thursday. We’re taking next week off and then we’re going to be back on May 28th with “Your Story in Three Minutes”. We’re going to talk about after the elevator page and explaining what your nonprofit does, in a short and concise manner.
Then one week later on June 4th, this will be really cool, really interesting. “Managing Your Charity Watchdog Profile”. If you ever wanted to leverage things like Charity Navigator and GuideStar and websites like that. Check out that webinar it’s going to be pretty interesting. Lots of other webinars listed on that site. You can check it out. You may see a topic that interests you. We’d love to have you back some Thursday in the future.
So Lori, final thanks to you. Thanks so much for sharing all your knowledge. This was a lot of fun.
Lori: Thanks everybody for sticking around longer and thank you so much for allowing me to be your partner and just hangout with you Steven, you’re a great guy.
Steven: Oh yeah, we’ll have you back for sure.
Lori: Thank you.
Steven: Well, thanks all of you for hanging out. Have a good weekend and hopefully we will see you sometime in the future. So we’ll call it a day. Have a great rest of your day. Bye now.