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Yeah Yeah Yeah we all hate boards, boards suck and they're only useful as content for humorous blog posts or for the more ambitious books on how to manage your board.
Boards are one of the most important constituents in our sector. They are the ones held responsible by the public (and the law) for ensuring that donor money is used properly and adequately reported. It's their job to make sure that our organisation does the work it's supposed to do and has adequate funds to continue doing its work.
So why do we as professionals in the sector spend so much time complaining about how our board sucks, how they don't understand fundraising, how they block every attempt to deliver awesome campaigns? Are they bad people just determined to undermine staff while they groom their ego?
No I think it's because we're not good enough at our jobs.
We pride ourselves on our ability to tell stories. We pat ourselves on the back for our amazing donor love. We exalt at how clever we are to identify a new donor segment to approach
Our board are our primary volunteers
They actual donate their time - which is in many cases extremely valuable. They donate their expertise in governance, finance, legal issues etc and they donate their reputation as directors of a charity.
I think we owe them a bit of respect
and I don't mean pander and accept bad behavior from them
What I mean is that they deserve to be brought along on a journey just like any other donor or volunteer.
Connect them to the work - in language or method that resonates with them not with your programme team
Ask them to remember what drew them to the organisation in the first place.
Thank them for their contributions.
Explain why fundraising needs to develop in a particular way and give them professionally thought out pros, cons and scenarios. Give them data but also explain that they may or may not be the target market for a particular campaign.
Tell them the impact their decisions can make to your cause.
Include them in the decision process - like which agency you might use
and ask for their professional expertise (once you're confident enough to refute non expert opinion).
Will this work and will every board member suddenly think you're amazing?
But more probably you'll convince a couple at a time and you'll have to keep going back to them. Talking about the work, appealing to their passion and experience until they get what you're trying to do.
But it's not different than any donor or volunteer - People connect differently to different things.
Bring in some plain cards and envelopes for your board.Ask them to write down on their card the reason they care about the work or why they joined the boardDon't ask them to read itTell them to seal it and put it in their diary Now every time they see the card they will remember why the volunteer as a board member and will be reconnected to your work
This is all just about saying don't blame your board for not supporting you. Look in the mirror and ask have you done enough to earn their support.