Setting Expections – Talking with Board Members

Managing Board members is a part of our job as development officers. Board members can and should be a source of financial support and governance. We want to have the right Board members on the bus and we have to agree on expectations. I believe everyone comes to Board service with good intentions, if not good expectations. Sometimes we are not clear about what we want, need or expect. At other times, life and work get in the way of Board members’ good works. Talking with your Board members one on one is the best way to determine next steps.

Veteran Board Members

These folks may be on your Board for a variety of reasons. And for some, should be asked to leave. If you want to have a discussion about their service, expectations, staying or retirement, here are some suggestions:

  • Ask every Board member to assess their work and the work of the Board annually
  • Talk with them about their Board service
    • What it means to them
    • How they see contributing to the organization’s growth and success
  • Review with them
    • Responses to their self assessment
    • Attendance at Board meetings and organization events
    • Participating on Board committees
    • Their annual gift and other contributions to the organization
  • Review the Board job description, expectations and term limits
  • Ask them to commit
    • Renew or resign from their Board service based on the conversation
    • Is there another role in which they can serve the organization better

These conversations can and should include the Executive Director, Board Chair and Nominating Committee Chair. Every organization should have annual, if not more frequent, one on one conversations with every Board member. Remember, they are people, volunteers and donors of great importance to your organization.

New Board Members

Here is an opportunity to start fresh! Be sure expectations are clear and have a process in place.

  • Board job description attached to a Board application including a Board pledge form = setting expectations
  • Time line for Board interviews and orientation = “We care about you and want you to succeed.”
  • Calendar of Board meetings and organization events = organized organization that wants a busy volunteer to make time on their calendar
  • Host a Board orientation so they are up to speed at their first Board meeting = More caring
  • Schedule a meeting with the Board President and Executive Director to ask for their first gift = Treat them like the major donor they are/can be
  • Assign a Board mentor for their first year of service = Caring more….
  • Welcome and introductions at their first Board meeting = Making them feel a part of the group
  • Follow up! = Want their advice and feedback

Remember, treat your Board members like major donors. Keep in touch between Board meetings, don’t always call when you are looking for money. Cultivate them like the great donor they are or can be.

Check out my website for Board resources you can use. They will be available until June 22!  Leave a comment and I will email you a free copy the Talisman Tool Box: Empowering Your Board to Fundraise.

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4 thoughts on “Setting Expections – Talking with Board Members

  1. Barbara, please email me a free copy of the Talisman Tool Box: Empowering Your Board to Fundraise. I just started as Development Director for House of Charity in January and am in the process of building relationships with individual board members. Thank you.

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