A number of recent online discussions have centered on the issue of board member engagement. Board engagement is a major component to an organization’s success because an interested and engaged board member is more apt to roll up their sleeves and get stuff done. Chances are your board members are successful, busy and committed to many different activities, and because of that, your organization is in effect competing for each member’s time, talent and commitment. Knowing what board members want and expect from the organization can go a long way toward increasing their engagement.
The Three Things Your Board Members Want
1. Clear Expectations
Organizations will often take the time to orient members to the board and to the role the organization plays. But in order to increase engagement, the organization first needs to be clear about what is expected of each member and then track and measure key aspects of their contribution. Board management software can assist with keeping track of member-related
information such as attendance, financial and time contributions and the tasks and activities they’re assigned.
2. Effective Communication
Members need to be able to access information easily, consistently and in a timely fashion. While communication issues may not be the organization’s fault, they are its problem. Organizations need to create better ways to provide mission critical material for their members, and provide tools for them to respond and communicate more efficiently.
Board members want to feel that their commitment is valued and that they are accomplishing goals and objectives from meeting to meeting. One common concern we have heard from board members is that it often feels they just meet to meet, and wind up covering the same ground from meeting to meeting. In order to address this issue, organizations need to do three things:
- Have goals for their boards and committees
- Measure action items from meetings
- Relate these items back to the goals
As the organization tracks the completion of action items, the members can see the completion of the goal. To keep members engaged during organizational meetings, it is critical that meetings are productive and progress toward a strategic goal.
Engaged board members are an organization’s most critical asset. After all, the three most important words in fundraising are "come join me" and the only one who can say them is an actively engaged leadership volunteer.