There are not too many blog posts written from the board member’s perspective. There does, however, seem to be a ton of blog posts, and webinar after webinar, on how to find better board members, how to train them and how to manage them. Perhaps this idea can help provide a bridge between the two worlds.

I, for one, believe poor members are often times made, not born. Let me explain what is meant by such a bold statement. Virtually every board member has strong passion and excitement for numerous items in their life. This can range from a hometown athletic team, to activities of their children/grandchildren, to their chosen profession, to a cause or two which hits truly close to home.

If the above statements are true, why do we have so many board members who are along just for the ride and who are reluctant to get deeply involved in one aspect or another? I think the answer is simple:

The nonprofit has not ignited their personal passion!

MuralWhat I am referring to is a direct hit to heart and soul of any board member. This does not happen by reviewing financial statements or listening to staff reports or reviewing possible major donor lists. Surely, we are not surprising anyone reading this post by making the above statement. If we are not, then why do we keep operating without making this huge advantage come to fruition?

One of the best ways to allow the direct hit to the heart and soul to occur is by a meaningful day of volunteering. What I am referring to is a day rich with experiences that play out the charity’s mission in real time. An experience where the board member/volunteer is working shoulder to shoulder with staff and other volunteers to make the organization’s mission come to life!

Think how rewarding this can be for everyone involved. I could not find any statistics other than my own personal experiences with numerous charities. Most were able to arrange such a volunteer experience, some were not. Would you like to guess how big of a difference there was in my passion and effort for each organization?

I would love to know if this is the case with others or how many nonprofit leaders out there reading this post have reached this same conclusion. Please let us all know with a comment or two below.

You might even find a few outstanding board members from within the ranks of current volunteers. Think of the passion and sense of mission they could ignite in future board meetings. Combine those with previous volunteer experience with other new members just emerging from a meaningful volunteer and you just might not ever have a dull board meeting again!

Jay Love

Jay Love

Co-Founder & Chief Relationship Officer at Bloomerang
A 30+ veteran of the nonprofit software industry, Jay Love co-founded Bloomerang in 2012. Prior to Bloomerang, he was the CEO and Co-Founder of eTapestry for 11 years, which at the time was the leading SaaS technology company serving the charity sector. Jay and his team grew the company to more than 10,000 nonprofit clients, charting a decade of record growth. Prior to starting eTapestry, Jay served 14 years as President and CEO of Master Software Corporation. MSC provided a widely used family of database products for the non-profit sector called Fund-Master. He currently serves on the board of the Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University and is the past AFP Ethics Committee Chairman. Jay is also the author of Stay Together: How to Encourage a Lifetime of Donor Loyalty.
Jay Love