A common frustration among many nonprofit leaders is the lack of support and participation of board members. Why is there not better attendance at board meetings? Why aren’t there more board members serving on committees? How do we get more board members to participate and support fundraising activities? The overwhelming feeling seems to be that we do the best we can with the boards we have. On the other side of the coin, board members may be just as frustrated because they feel underutilized and are not sure what is expected of them.
One way to address this issue is to develop a board contract or board commitment letter. A well written commitment letter can briefly and precisely list the specific responsibilities and participation expected of your board members. It can also be a recruitment tool as you discuss with potential board members what is expected of them. If you have a board member who is not meeting expectations or seems unclear about their responsibilities being able to return to a commitment letter can be a helpful reminder.
A commitment letter can also outline what board members can expect from your organization. Adding to the letter what a board member can expect from your organization will foster shared accountability. Providing specific guidelines on what type of information and reports that they can expect and to whom they can go to if they have questions or concerns will; limit confusion, build trust and help to maintain proper lines of communications.
It is not uncommon for board members to have very different opinions on what should be expected of them. Consider including at your next board training/retreat time to discuss what should or should not be in your board’s commitment letter. Your board members play a critical role in the health and development of your organization. It is a wise investment of time and resources to reevaluate how you are utilizing your board members and communicating your expectations. .
I can help you create a customize board training/retreat that will address your board’s needs and energize your board to become engaged at a higher level. Send an e-mail or call 859-261-4145 to set up a no cost no obligation consultation to explore how I can help you and your organization.