During the 2015 Young Nonprofit Professionals Network National Conference in Little Rock, there were a few great presentations focused around getting the most out of your board, which particularly highlighted intentional relationship management as the core of nonprofit board work.
One point that stood out to me during these sessions was how some boards create “mission moments” — opportunities for their members to reconnect with the mission and critical work of their organizations.
A few examples of ways to do this are:
- a performing arts organization that holds one of its meetings each year on the stage;
- inviting beneficiaries of the work to share their stories with the board during a meeting; and
- having a board member share why he/she is committed to this work.
I believe that mission moments can be a great way to deepen commitment and provide insight. We’ve certainly had some success with this in my current organization and I hope to do more of it as our board grows.
Have you used mission moments with your board? Please share any experiences in the comments.
After two years on the Young Nonprofit Professionals Network National Board, one (of many) things that I have learned is the importance of paying consistent attention to a board’s culture.
A few ways that we have intentionally focused on our board culture are:
- highlighting one specific element of our culture during each monthly meeting
- making cultural fit a key element of our annual board recruitment efforts
- creating opportunities for members to socialize outside of our formal in-person meetings
This calendar year, we have been setting aside a few minutes in each regular meeting to highlight one element of our culture that has contributed to our cohesion and long-term success. This simple act has helped reinforce what is important to our newest board members and ensure a smooth transition for them onto the board, while also reminding longer-tenured board members of their commitment.
Leading up to and during our annual board recruitment process, we are very clear about the importance of adding new members who will complement the board’s culture, while also bringing the expertise and perspectives that we need to advance YNPN’s mission.
However, I feel that the most important element of our culture has been the time spent together informally, which has allowed us to engage on a much more personal level and to act more effectively when working together as a board.
These elements of the YNPN National Board’s culture are the result of the thoughtful work of our Board Development Committee, which has primary responsibility for maintaining a productive culture, recruiting and onboarding new members, transitioning members off of the board, and much more.
Does your board have a Board Development or Governance Committee? If so, is it engaged in supporting a positive board culture? If not, how have you encouraged this among your board in other ways?
Happy New Year from The Good Steward! The year ahead will be full of plenty that will keep me busy, but most of which will also be shared with you, dear readers.
Some notable highlights for the year ahead:
- As of January 1st, I am serving as Vice Chair of the Young Nonprofit Professionals Network National Board;
- There will be a good amount of experimentation in and increased fundraising with the new I-House leadership;
- I’m continuing a pro bono consulting relationship with a great grassroots organization in Missouri, which is really providing me with an opportunity to deepen my fundraising and coaching skills;
- I will be representing YNPN on the Independent Sector NGen Advisory Board and look forward to helping shape the 2014 program, which will be capped off at the Independent Sector Conference in Seattle.
I look forward to sharing 2014 — and all of these experiences — with you and hope to hear from you in the comments. Feel free to let me know if you have thoughts on topics that you want to see covered here!