5 Takeaways from “Using Your Board as a Force Multiplier”

By J. Patrick Traynor

The following are highlights from a Giving Hearts Day Monthly Learning Series event held in August. You can watch the full recording here.

  1. If you feel like complaining about your board, first ask yourself what you’re doing to energize the individual members on a regular basis. If you do this regularly, you will ignite their heart, and they will become the proudest, most fervent champions that your organization has.
  2. A great, practical way to activate your board is to ask your board members to serve on a short-term committee where they’re primarily responsible for activating their own networks. Whether it’s for Giving Hearts Day, your annual gala, or a capital campaign, just make sure to have a concrete ask for them. You have to be specific in what you’re asking them to do.

Impact Foundation’s Pat Traynor (L) and Tara Bujold (R) detail the three primary roles an Impact Board Member should fill: ambassador, appreciator, and asker.

  1. If you’re sheepish about talking to your board, you may want to meet with your board chair privately, and ask them for help. When you ask someone for help, they generally will help you. And if what you’re asking for is beyond the realm of what they can do or are comfortable with, they’ll tell you.
  2. Create a checklist of things your board members can be doing, broken down by season, campaign, or individual event. This will allow them to pick and choose what they’re comfortable with doing. Remember not to pigeonhole your board members either. For example, you might have an attorney or a physician on your board who’s interested in flexing their creative muscles in their volunteer work.
  3. Remember that you’re not a burden to your board. They opted into serving because they care about your organization and want to be helpful. Remember, too, that your mission affords them a truly unique opportunity to be part of a worthy cause that’s larger than themselves. So lean into that, and don’t be shy.

Bonus: Any time you ask a board member — or any volunteer for that matter — to make thank you calls or asks on your behalf, the least you can do is prepare a standard script for them. They don’t need to read it verbatim, but it’s a great comfort to most people to have something to fall back on, if needed.

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