While we hope people will join our boards for the pure joy of giving, the decision to be on a board is more complex. Besides helping the nonprofit, most members hope to advance their professional goals. Do you give your board members opportunities to work with other community leaders? Do you help them publish their ideas in the local newspaper? While serving, do they also have occasions to sharpen their speaking, writing, or teamwork skills? You can help them reach professional goals in ways that help your nonprofit. I suggest a dozen ideas below.
1. Letterhead. Place their names on your letterhead to enhance your credibility and theirs.
2. Website. Include their name with their businesses on your website.
3. Quote. Ask for a statement or brief testimonial about why they support your nonprofit. Place these on your website and newsletters, etc. Offer to provide a testimonial for their business’ site recognizing their support.
4. YouTube Video. Ask for video testimonials–same potential use.
5. Blog. Suggest that members write a guest piece about their experience as a board member for the nonprofit’s blog. What have they learned? What, from the inside, was most interesting about your nonprofit’s work?
6. Newspapers. Request that one or two members write a letter to the editor of the newspaper about how your nonprofit solves community needs, to solicit community help.
7. In-house Publications. Adapt articles for board member’s in-house publications, such as their company newsletters. For instance, ask them to write a blog or news article to focus on their experiences as a board member. How does it apply to their professional life? This might begin, “As an accountant serving this nonprofit, I have learned…” Again, provide them with statements about how their contributions are valued.
8. Presentation Add-on. Do your members get equivalent recognition as sponsors for their equivalent or greater gifts? Compare their gifts to the fees you charge for event sponsorship. Then consider how you might recognize members at events, too. You might script your public presentations to include brief board presentations and the like. Public recognition of their service will help your nonprofit recruit future members.
9. Use Meetings to Deepen Relationships. At meetings, help board member to have one-on-one conversations with other members to deepen and foster potential business relationships. These interactions will improve the quality of decision-making at future meetings by growing trust.
10. Say Yes. When invited to attend member’s events, go. While there, publically thank members for their work. At the same time, improve their branding and increase your nonprofit’s visibility.
11. Recommend. Recommend them on LinkedIn and, when their term ends, provide a thank you letter that can be used as a character reference and recommendation letter.
12. Learn. Leaders are learners. One of the most valuable professional opportunities you can provide is for your board members to learn. Topics and experiences can include nonprofit leadership, your cause, group dynamics, and community improvement.
When you ask individuals to serve on your board, your nonprofit is offering them an opportunity to be a partner. As part of the partnership, be intentional about providing those who agree to serve with quality experiences in the boardroom that overflow into their professional lives. I’ve suggested a dozen opportunities. Pick two to start. Think of it as a way to say thank you with benefits. Think of it as a way to improve your nonprofit, resources, and, over time, your income.