Nonprofits: How to get more value from your Board of Directors


Every non-profit I speak with wishes they could get more value from their Board of Directors.  It’s not that their directors aren’t engaged or interested, it’s just often difficult to get more of their time and specific, focused attention in between board meetings.

Here are several recommendations for how nonprofits (and any organization with board members and advisors) can get more value from these important partners.


·         Give them smaller, contained tasks:  Make it easier for them to execute, and get things done for you.  Big multi-stage projects can be intimidating to tackle, but if you break those requests into smaller, more attainable tasks, things will get done more quickly

·         Tap into their networks:  Find out who they know, and how they can help you.  Help your directors feel good by making connections within their network to other people, resources and organizations that can also help you get things done

·         Leverage their specific expertise:  I’m surprised at how few non-profits do this.  Know what your board members do well – what they’re passionate about, where they have experience – and make sure you tap into that

·         Use them for ideas, not execution:  This is more natural and achievable for board members, but the key is to not only let them be wildly creative – but to write everything down, capture all ideas, then triage, choose and execute the right ideas, right away

·         Maximize meeting time with them:  The more time you prepare, the more you’ll get out of it.  Have a set agenda and expected outcomes, give board members materials to review in advance, be focused during your time, record next steps and follow-up

·         Track and hold accountable on commitments:  Your board members are well-intentioned, but they can get busy and forget.  Send them email reminders, set deadlines, and help hold them accountable.  They’ll appreciate that you do this

·         Choose new board members wisely:  As board seats come up for renewal, make sure new candidates understand the commitments.  You want folks who are passionate about your work plus willing to help execute

·         Reward them:  For non-profits, monetary compensation isn’t a part of the picture.  That said, you still can offer introductions within your own network that will benefit them personally and professionally, give them awareness and public recognition for their time, etc.

·         Get their families involved:  Invite their family to recognition events, and give families a chance to donate time together for the right projects.  Help the rest of the family feel good about the director’s involvement and contribution.  It’ll make those couple extra hours your directors spend on a particular project or task easier to swallow

·         Give them tools to work:  This can be online collaboration tools, CRM systems, whatever is necessary to help them work faster and easier