Posts made in May, 2012

Top Tips to Finding Tip Top Board Members

Posted by on May 23, 2012 | 0 comments

A great board of directors for your nonprofit is one more critical key to your success.  Putting in the time to find the right people pays off. Once your new board members are on board, it’s your responsibility to use them. Begin by providing training, take time to listen to them, nurture them, and be ready to use their expertise, contacts, and reputation to expand your network and identify potential donors.

“The first question nonprofits should consider as they start to formulate their board recruiting plans is: What are our key strategic priorities, and what new skills or expertise might we need on our board to help us achieve those priorities?” This and more good information about recruiting and vetting board members can be found at

The following TOP TIPS for building a strong, effective board come from the Center for Civic Partnerships:

Top Tips

  • Recruit new members strategically to find the right people to meet your organization’s needs. Remember, recruitment is an ongoing process, and not just something to think about when vacancies arise.
  • Determine the types of skills you need on your board. Consider members who have skills in accounting, legal matters, property management or policy areas.
  • Develop clear roles and responsibilities for board members. Some organizations prepare job descriptions for board members, especially for officer positions such as president, vice president, treasurer and secretary.
  • Educate board members so they understand the organization’s mission and programs as well as their legal and fiscal responsibilities.
  • Orient new members. Prepare a board manual and initiate a board mentoring system – current board members can provide support and coaching to new members. Consider inviting board members to tour your organization and meet with senior organizational staff as part of their orientation.
  • Establish committees that will enable board members to take an active role in furthering the organization. Some nonprofits require board members to serve on committees prior to joining the board.
  • Communicate with board members in between meetings. Use the opportunity to provide organizational updates, encourage people to follow-through on commitments, and discuss issues in an informal setting.
  • Host an annual retreat for board members. You may consider involving staff as well. Engage the services of a skilled facilitator to assist with planning and facilitating the session.
  • Appreciate, recognize and celebrate the contributions of board members.
  • Periodically self-assess your performance as a board to determine how well you’re carrying out your responsibilities and identify challenges that require action.
  • Establish term limits and rotate board members so that fresh ideas and new energy come into your organization.
One additional comment I would add is the importance of inviting your board members to contribute. Many grant-giving foundations now ask if your board members are financially invested in your nonprofit organaization.


It’s important that board members “link arms” with you and become a valued part of your organization, whether by financial or in-kind donation, networking efforts, or the added value of their wisdom and experience.


Don’t hesitate to make this part of your initial conversations when speaking with potential board members. Good board members want to be involved and they want to contribute. In fact, their willingness to give (money, time, talent, energy) might be the litmus test you need, so remember to use it.


I stumbled upon this article on how board members should decide to join (or not) a nonprofit board of directors. It’s a good perspective to keep in mind when talking to your potential board member candidates. Think about what you’re asking for from their perspective. Are you a good fit for them? It’s not only the other way around.


And finally, remember that board members are people too. They need to feel wanted, appreciated and valued, or you are wasting their time and yours.
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Posted by on May 18, 2012 | 0 comments

Thank Goodness It’s Friday!

Are you dressed down? Is your desk in total disarray? Are you counting the hours (minutes) until it’s 5 o’clock somewhere? Yes? Well, you’re in good company!

But there’s at least one organization that doesn’t rest on its laurels on this much-awaited last day of the work week: Mixtape Communications. Or maybe they are resting and their Free Tool Friday post has long been cued for posting (smart, aren’t they?!).

In any case, the Free Tool Friday link may be a good one to follow…today’s “free tool” at Mixtape will help you create Simple Webpages in Minutes. Another free tool from the past asks What if you drew your mission statement?.

I also discovered this Tons O’ Free Tools for Nonprofits post from May 2011.

I don’t suppose there’s a need for a “free tool” on How to Best Celebrate TGIF! but we probably don’t need one, do we?

Have a great weekend!

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Who Cares?

Posted by on May 10, 2012 | 0 comments

It’s amazing how few people seem to really care any more.

Is it because we’re all to busy to notice, or have we lost our sensitivity to anything outside of our own life, or maybe it’s a result  of too much technology- we love our flat screens more than people? Who knows?

What I do know is that caring about others is as important as breathing. When our lives reach beyond our own personal concerns, we can reach our potential; without that outreach we become stagnant.

And how can we expect people to listen if they don’t even know us, or more importantly, if we don’t know them; if we don’t care, or it appears we don’t care?

This “care factor” is critical to organizations as well, it doesn’t just apply to individuals. It’s easy to go through the basic motions of “maintaining relationships” with very little emotion or energy involved. But is it the right thing to do? I would suggest that it is not.

If we are “reaching out” through a series of calculated development efforts without any personal concern for who’s on the other end of our message, we are missing what might be an amazing opportunity for growth, for friendship, for support.

You might be wondering why it really matters, after all how anyone would know that you didn’t really care.  How could, for instance, a donor tell the difference?

We’ve all been trained (or use someone who has) to write compelling direct mail pieces that are created to touch a heart or prick the mind. Just the presence of emotion is enough to show we care, isn’t it?

The answer, again, is no, it is not enough.

We (hopefully) remember to send our thank you notes in a timely fashion after we receive a donor gift. And we try to make them personal, don’t we? This shows we care, doesn’t it? No.

No, no, no.

The only way to really CARE about your donors is by knowing them, or at the very least, understanding their reason for giving to your organization.

To know a donor, you have to listen, not just talk. When we email, we are talking, but not listening. When we send direct mail, we are talking, but not listening.

It takes personal effort, personal communication, personal interaction to gain an opportunity to listen, to discover the reasons you should care. I’m talking about phone calls, lunches, events, any chance you can create to meet with your donor one-on-one, to have a conversation, to offer a smile, to say a personal face-to-face thank you, to ask for their input, to hear about their life.

The more we listen, the more we will care, and the more we care, the more our ideas will be heard and responded to.

As Fred Smith of the Competitive Enterprise Institute recently reminded me, “People don’t care what we know until they know that we care.”

I think we all need this reminder.

Who cares? We all should. Especially if we want to make a difference; if we want our ideas to be heard. If we want to make a friend, if we want to gain a partner, if we want to build an effective team.

Who cares? I do. And I hope you do too.

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