Tuesday, January 27, 2009

What are Your Experiencing? Part 2

This week I wanted to share the board topics that came out of my conversations two weeks ago with two groups of nonprofit leaders. I joined a group of senior fund raisers in Indianapolis to discuss issues within their organizations and the community, hosted at Gleaners.

Thoughts and ideas that caught my attention:

Spend more of your time with board members who “get it” and can help gets things done and help engage other board members.

Ask questions that force board members to wrestle with their values and reasons for being part of the organization. This may be best initiated in a retreat or extended working session. Some will be real and some as preparation for the real thing.

- Define a Gift Acceptance Policy – are there people, businesses, or organizations we would not accept funds from or not want to be associated with?

- What is an appropriate reserve for our organization? How do we feel about putting our funds into service versus setting them aside for the future?

• In one mid-sized nonprofit, the Development Director serves as the recorder for board meetings. She drafts the minutes and then reviews them with the Exec Dir and Board Secretary. This has had, at least, three positive effects – 1) the board members know her and consider her part of the board team, 2) a second staff person is aware of what is happening at board meetings (backup), and 3) it is much easier to recruit a Board Secretary. Perhaps the Board Secretary will take on some of the important, but often overlooked, aspects of that role.

In Cincinnati, I was part of a panel discussion on board leadership for Business on Board, a board training program hosted by the Fine Arts Fund. I joined Rick Pender, Director of Development, for the Cincinnati Opera and Caitlin Wood, Director of External Relations, for Ensemble Theatre of Cincinnati on this panel, facilitated by Mike Boberg from the Fine Arts Fund.

Thoughts and ideas that caught my attention:

• The Opera strives to create a “family feel” on their board. The result is that the 80 members know each other and look forward to doing things together. Each member must make a specified annual gift.

• Your best new board members will come from the people who already know you and get excited about your work or potential.

• We assume our new and current board members must know how to present our organization since they don’t ask. Train, Train, Train

• It is critical for new board members to know why they, specifically, were recruited and how you expect them, specifically, to participate.

What are your thoughts? What are you experiencing?

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