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6 Nonprofit Board Engagement Strategies For Success
Nonprofit board engagement is an ongoing process that ensures members feel connected to your mission, know what is expected of them, and feel motivated.
After an in-depth board recruitment process, you’ve finally formed a group filled with the expertise and commitment needed to grow your nonprofit. Congrats! Nonprofit board recruitment is an important step. However, just as critical is nonprofit board engagement once those new members have joined.
Nonprofit board engagement is an ongoing process that ensures members:
- Feel connected to your mission
- Know what is expected of them
- Feel a sense of belonging on the board
- Are motivated to do their best
Below, we share six strategies to try as part of your ongoing nonprofit board engagement efforts.
1. Host a Social Gathering
Board members are more likely to feel engaged with your work if they feel a sense of belonging within the group. Help board members feel more invested through increasing the social connections between them.
One way to do this is by organizing quarterly social events that are more informal than your routine board meetings. These give board members a chance to mix and mingle, get to know each other, and establish important social bonds. Think of these events as a time for play, and get creative! For example, you could organize a:
- Happy hour
- Escape room outing
- Cooking class
- Bowling night
Creating a sense of community amongst your board members through social gatherings will encourage them to continue to show up and be engaged with your cause.
2. Bring New Challenges to Your Board Discussions
Board meetings will always have some repetition in the topics you need to cover and the processes you’ll need to follow to approve minutes and perform other administrative tasks. However, to keep your nonprofit board members engaged, it’s also important to spice up the agenda with fresh dialogue.
Think about some of your nonprofit’s biggest challenges, needs, or ideas, and bring one of those topics to each of your board meetings for discussion. Ask board members for their insight on the issues. This sparks engagement through the need to think creatively and innovatively about a subject. It also shows that you value your board members’ expertise and that their participation makes a difference in the future of your operations.
3. Have Clear Meeting Roles and Agendas
Nothing zaps engagement like disorganization and meetings that drag on without clear goals and objectives. Help board members know what is expected from them at meetings by establishing clear roles. For example, know who will be taking the meeting’s minutes, who will be reporting on different topics, and who will serve as the timekeeper.
To the extent possible, respect your board members’ time by sticking to your agenda and time limits. You can always start a “parking lot” for listing new topics that arise for your next meeting, rather than letting them derail your current schedule and agenda.
4. Leave Meetings With Action Items and Deadlines
Each board meeting should end with clarity on what is expected from each board member and by when. By leaving with an action item, board members are encouraged to keep your nonprofit’s work top-of-mind, and a deadline helps ensure that they’ll stick to their assigned task.
Action items and deadlines show that your nonprofit board isn’t just a group that meets periodically, but rather, it’s a dedicated membership that keeps your nonprofit’s momentum moving forward. Assigning out tasks is also a way to provide further clarity on board role responsibilities, which is a key way to keep nonprofit board members engaged.
5. Organize Activities to Connect With Your Mission
Board members presumably joined your nonprofit board because they care about the work you do. However, their board role may not always interact directly with your cause. A great way to keep nonprofit board members engaged is to schedule events that help them reconnect with your mission firsthand.
For example, you can organize volunteer events where your board members get to interact directly with your nonprofit’s beneficiaries or otherwise lend a hand on an activity that moves your mission forward. You can also give presentations that help reconnect board members to your cause. In these cases, remember to use photos that can evoke the emotional appeal of your work.
Engaging your nonprofit board members through activities that directly connect them to your cause helps them continue to be evangelists for your work and remember why they got involved in the first place.
6. Remember to Thank Your Board Members
You likely have a stewardship plan for your donors and volunteers, but do you have one for your board members as well? As with donors and volunteers, ensuring your board members feel appreciated is critical for ongoing engagement.
Make sure to thank your board members for their time and contributions. You can implement similar tactics as you would for donors or volunteers, such as hosting annual award ceremonies, sending handwritten cards, or highlighting them on social media.
Keep Your Board Engaged to Help Your Nonprofit Grow
Your nonprofit board members are some of your organization’s greatest champions. By implementing key strategies, you can ensure they remain engaged with your work for the length of their board term and beyond.
Using a software solution like Instil makes board member engagement and stewardship simple. You can use Instil’s donor lifecycle board to move board members through the same stages of cultivation and stewardship that you would for major donors and other supporters. You can also equip them with reports and donor cultivation information that helps them quickly get up to speed on your goals and help with your fundraising initiatives.