Nonprofit Board Leadership: How to do it

OK, you’re on your first nonprofit board, and leadership is on your mind. How do you do it?

Well, number one,

1. Show up to the meetings.

So many board members don’t realize that leadership is all about showing up. And actually doing the work.

2. Learn about fundraising. If you don’t know anything, admit your ignorance and learn right now.

Luckily I have lots of resources to help you learn about fundraising. Including fundraising courses in my shop, and recordings of previous fundraising conferences. I also have the Asking for More mastermind that can help you. And if you would like a customized board training for your organization, just reach out via the contact form and let’s chat!

3. Convince your friends and colleagues to give to your nonprofit.

The organization cannot survive without your help. And if you care, then ask your friends and colleagues to give. Tell them why you got involved, and ask them to support this work.

4. Question junior staff members about the nonprofit and how you can help.

Don’t pretend they don’t exist, don’t see them as beneath you. The staff members are eager to give you input into how the organization works (or doesn’t work) or how it could work better. This is your time to shine, to help the organization be a better place to work.

5. Maintain close ties to people under the Executive Director. People on the ground know what’s really going on.

On a related note, you definitely want to see if you can get a representative or two from the community on the board. It’s something that can help you understand how your decisions affect real people’s lives. Whether you’re a university or hospital, social services nonprofit or advocacy nonprofit, somewhere down the line, your work affects someone. See if you can get them to the table.

6. Nonprofit Board Leadership means do NOT avoid your Development Director’s calls.

Just respond as soon as you can. They are working hard so you have to work less hard to keep this organization afloat.

7. How to make meetings more fun

If it’s getting not fun for you anymore, and you are starting to dread the meetings, at the next meeting, stop and say, “Okay, let’s end the meeting with a story about how we helped this month.” Always try to end on a positive note. You might as well get a warm fuzzy feeling before you walk out the door, since you’re not getting paid!

8. If you don’t have time to commit to the board, and don’t want to fundraise, just say it.

Step off. They’ll find someone else. They always do.

Anyone else have any advice on how to be a good board member? Please leave a comment!

Here are 99 more nonprofit board leadership resources

If you want 65 more fundraising career resources, just go here.

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