As the Executive Director of your nonprofit organization, do you sometimes feel that your relationship with your board is not working as well as it could? You send out emails and no one replies? Board members don’t attend meetings? Well, you are not alone! Although the relationship between the Executive Director and the Board is fundamental to the success of the organization, it is the area in which most Executive Directors feel most uncertain.
Here are seven communication strategies to help you work with your board!
- Respect your board members. Respect their talents, expertise, perspectives and efforts on behalf of the organization. Respect leads to honest and open communication. Without respect, communication can become strained.
- Educate your board regarding your organization and the role of the board member within the organization. Your board will need detailed information about your organization so that they can act as a knowledgeable spokesperson in the community. Each board member should understand the mission and goals of the organization, the organization’s strategic plan, the organization’s policies, the budget and financial policies, and the roles and responsibilities of the board and the staff.
- Develop regular communication with your board members between meetings. Regular communication can facilitate board engagement, allegiance, and retention. Use of emails, phone calls, and newsletters can accomplish this.
- Commit to the “no surprises” rule. The Board should never be surprised by reading about the organization in the paper, seeing it on TV, or hearing about it from others in the community. Pick up the phone or send an email to convey both good and bad news!
- Plan effective board meetings. Productive board meetings lead to productive board members. Keep the meeting interesting and organized. Send the agenda and meeting materials to the members prior to the meeting and, if possible, make a personal contact with the members to allow questions to be asked.
- Propose effective solutions with confidence. If it appears that you do not know what to do or appear unsure, the board can lose trust in your skills and abilities. By proposing effective solutions to the board, you also maintain some control over the outcomes.
- Keep your promises to the board. This is pretty basic advice. Making deadlines and getting back to board members with requested information inspires confidence.
You can make this happen! Commit to these seven ideas for the next few months and watch your relationship with your board grow and strengthen!
What struggles have you encountered working with your board? Have you implemented any of these strategies? What was the outcome? Comment below with your experiences.