7 Strategies to Create an Engaged Board
By BoardPaq, October 23, 2017
Advice from: Thomas
Bakewell & Carol Weisman
the right board members
When obtaining new board members
there are a couple of key items you need to remember. Make sure that you are
searching for the skills to align recruiting with strategy for your board.
• Assess the skills in your current board room and
determine what is needed.
• You need to know the difference between a board member
and a volunteer.
• Diversity is everything! Not just diverse race or gender, but also
Make sure your new board member knows
the expectations and commitment of the position before he or she starts. A
great way to prepare for this is by creating a board commitment letter that
covers the following issues:
• Attendance Policy
• Financial Expectations (donations, membership,
compensation, meals, travel, etc.)
• Role in special events and/or annual meetings
• Educational opportunities and expectations
• Board Terms and Conflicts of Interest
Once the board commitment letter is
finalized, be sure to send 2 copies, one to the board member and one to the
office to keep on record.
3. Be a “Learning
Every Board of Directors is
different, therefore, if you gain an experienced board member, they still might
not know the exact way that you like to run your board meetings. That is why it
is always important to welcome a new board member with a powerful orientation
• A warm welcome from all of the active Board Members
• Tell a story about your board and have a “Mission
Moment”, so they can be inspired
• Have good food or snacks to share
• Be sure to show interest in getting to know the new board
• Have an introduction to key leaders and a glossary of
The purpose of a grand orientation
like this is so that all members, new and old, can get to know one another and
discover how to work effectively together with their role responsibilities. It
is also extremely important that every board member understands their mission
because in the end “you can't sell what you don't know”.
Bring your board to your mission,
or your mission to your board every meeting.
4. Listen to how
your board members can be effectively engaged
To keep your board members
effectively engaged, you should ask them questions on their previous board
experience. As mentioned before, every Board of Directors runs their organization
differently, so it is important to find out what worked in the past and what
didn't work. Start by asking your board the questions below and see what you
• What boards have you served on?
• What did you like about your previous service?
• What did you dislike about your previous service?
• What experience do you have with our mission?
• Tell us about your time challenges and availability.
• What skills would you like to share with our
• Are you a part of any other organizations that you might have
an influence on?
5. Recognize and
Reward great work in governance
Great work in Governance can be
recognized with something as little as a thank you. If your board members feel
appreciated for all their hard work, then they will ultimately stay loyal and
keep working hard for that organization. Some other ways to say “thank you” to
your board members are:
• On their birthday, celebrate with lunch or a sweet treat
• For life events, like having children or getting married,
throw a small party or purchase a gift to show your support
• Send a board member a nice email or letter to say thank
you for all their hard work
Also, when someone misses a meeting
and doesn't let you know about it, be kind when checking up on them. Like
stated before, you never know what is going on in someones life… but at the
same time, it is not acceptable to consistently miss board meetings.
6. Conduct robust
discussion in your board and committee meetings
Bringing on new board members allows
your Board of Directors to grow and evolve as the world changes. A great tip to
follow when bringing on new members is to have them ratify decisions you've
already made, which further challenges your board members to speak openly and
help resolve conflict. A couple other ways to gather diverse responses are:
• Have the meeting chairman ask the shy members their thoughts,
since sometimes it might be hard for them to get a word in over louder
• Your board should know each other well enough to weigh
the insight of the trustee.
• Also, Faith based organizations might want to take time
for prayer or reflection.
7. Use your board
member’s time effectively
Don’t make assumptions. We all assume that people have the
same time challenges as we do, when in fact, we don’t. Some board members might
have seasonal demands, family challenges, illnesses, vacations planned or even
religious holidays. Ask your board members their time availability beforehand,
so it never has to become an issue.
It is also a good idea to have
updated contact information and the best way to reach each board member. (i.e.
Call, Text, Email, Mail)
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