Tag Archives: Nonprofit retention

Ways to Retain Nonprofit Board Members

Ways to Retain Nonprofit Board Members

Most nonprofit organizations will tell you that a motivated and compassionate team is what drives the day-to-day function of their organization. Key areas like administration, program coordinators, and direct service specialists are the heart and soul of what makes a nonprofit successful in addressing client needs and building a solid reputation as skilled providers in the community.

But where does leadership fall in this combination of expertise and connection to stakeholders?When contemplating your next steps in broadening awareness and projecting services to the next level, nonprofit consulting firms will tell you the strategy begins with the formation of a strong, sustainable board of directors.

A team of board members who are engaged with their community as well as in their industries,coupled with the desire to improve the lives of those served by a specific nonprofit, are an integral component of successful, long-term planning for growth.

But once you have these leaders on board, how do you keep their interest? How do you leverage their influence to drive an organization’s plan for maintaining services to those individuals who have the most need?

Where To Begin

The first piece of ordinary, yet effective advice a nonprofit consultant will tell you is to
run efficient, informative meetings. Board members by nature are busy people. In addition to their careers, they are involved in professional and philanthropic efforts and need time for their families and personal interests as well. Their time is a precious commodity and they cannot afford to waste it attending a 3-hour meeting that should have been an hour.

Ensure that agendas are created and disseminated to board members prior to meetings. Any questions that board members have about the agenda should be received prior to the meeting so that it can be properly addressed during the meeting without losing time and getting off track at the meeting. Don’t repeat in a meeting what has already been read in an email or report. Use this time for active discussions that propel the goals and tasks within the agenda.

And this might seem obvious, but since board meetings often occur around mealtimes it is always a welcome courtesy to provide refreshments. You don’t want your board members thinking about dinner when you want them to engage with the work at hand. It’s another way to show you care about them, their time and want to provide them with something in return.

Do They Know Your Story?

The stronger and more personal their connection is to your mission and vision the more likely board members will want to stay around to celebrate successful results. Since your staff members, especially those in direct service, intimately know your programs and gaps that may exist, they are an enormous resource to convey the impact of your nonprofit in the community. Enlist staff members to give presentations about programs and the people who are helped. Don’t be afraid to tug at their heartstrings. Remind board members why they are there and what they can do to keep the mission alive. Share success stories, but also describe areas where needs are not being met and what marginalized populations might be falling through the cracks.

Have They Experienced Your Work First-Hand?

It is one thing to hear reports about those vulnerable people who are helped or community
issues that are addressed, but it is another thing entirely for board members to join in on the work your organization does every day.

Invite board members to “shadow” staff members who are out in the community providing
direct services. We all know that people suffer from hunger, but that hunger looks different when serving food in a homeless shelter. We also know that there are folks who don’t possess the skills to land meaningful jobs that support their families. Board members can observe staff members providing employment skills to refugees and immigrants, the recently incarcerated, and people with physical or mental disabilities.

The more board members see, the more they are able to be an advocate for your organization in the community.

Don’t Forget the All-Important Thank You

Your board members aren’t volunteering for your organization because they expect a thank you or want any praise, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t give it to them when appropriate. And it doesn’t have to be grand or cost you much money. A nicely written thank you card goes a long way! But your appreciation can also be shown by providing small gifts, appreciation luncheons or even shout outs at events. By providing an environment where their endeavors impact their philanthropic passion, your nonprofit will enjoy the benefits of a board with staying power.

They will firmly connect with your work and enjoy being part of the solution that improves the quality of life in all of our communities. If you’re concerned about the best ways for your nonprofit organization to retain valuable board members, reach out to KM Clark Consulting for help. We know how important your board members are to you and we want to see them stick around for the long haul. Let us help you create a plan to make that happen. Contact us today to get started!

Celebrating Success

Celebrating Nonprofit Success Every Year

It’s hard to believe that we are quickly approaching the end of 2021 but somehow we are just a few weeks away from the new year. And with the new year comes new goals, new resolutions and new to-do lists. But before you get too caught up with the start of 2022, you should take a look back at 2021 and celebrate all that you’ve accomplished.

Okay, you might be thinking… we don’t have time to celebrate, we have a mile long to-do list and deadlines coming up. Look, we get it. Nonprofits have a lot on their plates and are usually doing it with just a handful of people. However, if we don’t look back and celebrate our successes it can be difficult to see how far we’ve come and find joy in our work when things get busy and stressful.

So let’s get into a few reasons why we think celebrating is worth being at the top of your to-do list before jumping into 2022.

Celebrating boosts wellbeing

I previously worked for a small nonprofit organization as the only paid staff person. Every day was full and exhausting and I’m sure I’m not a minority in this. Many nonprofit organizations are doing the work of 10 employees with 2 or 3 employees.  And with 30% of nonprofit workers being burnt out, it’s probably easy to say that wellbeing could always use a boost!

A social psychology researcher, Fred Bryant, is the father researcher of “savoring” and says that when we savor the positive things that happen it can help provide a barrier to the negative things and help build resilience. So even celebrating small victories can bring on positive emotions that can help with daily stresses.

Shows how much you’ve accomplished

It’s easy to fall into a routine of constantly moving onto the next task and the next task and the next task, forgetting what you’ve accomplished. But when you take a beat to look back at all of the small tasks that have led to bigger victories, it helps you realize how much work has actually gone into it. For example, let’s say one of your big goals for the year was to work with the school system for activities like Red Ribbon Week, sports event and Prom. And guess what? You made it happen! It’s an exciting time for your organization. And you could easily see the excitement and quickly move on to… now let’s work on not only working alongside the schools for these events, but let’s get into every health class once a month. It could be easy to think “getting involved in these events was the easy part, we have much more work to do!” But wait… what about all those meetings it took with different school administrators to get here. Or what about all the times you spoke at different meetings with parents to explain the importance of your organization being in the school. Or all those brainstorming sessions with your staff on best ways to hit your message home… we could probably keep listing things you did to get to this point.

See what we mean? It’s not just the celebration of the overall goal that is important. Looking back and reviewing the details that got you there will show you how much work you actually did and make your accomplishments that much more exciting. This will also give you a great boost in creating a “Year-End Review” for partners, current/potential funders and members of your organization. You can download our free Year-End Review template here to give you a head start.

Staff retention

Remember what we said earlier about burnout for nonprofit workers? That’s real… and it’s a big reason nonprofits have so much turnover. Want to stop hiring a new coordinator every year? Start celebrating! The big, the small and everything in between. Make sure your staff knows the work they are doing is appreciated.

Now… you tell me to celebrate… okay, we got it. But… How?! When?! Where?! Keep reading for some realistic tips you can implement to make celebrating simple and part of your organization’s culture.

Find a quiet space and remember alone.

Grab a piece of paper or whatever electronic device you may use and start remembering. Look through your calendar, quarterly or monthly reports from the year, your organization’s social media pages or anywhere that you have kept things that have happened over the year. Then write them down.

I bet you’ll be surprised by some of the accomplishments you may have forgotten about. Once you have those “bigger” pieces written down, start writing down some of the steps you remember that got you to that accomplishment. Do this for every single one.

At the end you should have a pretty long list of accomplishments and all the work that went into getting them done.

This is an especially great activity for those organizations who may only have 1 or 2 staff members.

Remember Together

If you have staff, a group of board members or volunteers do a similar activity with them as a group! A great way to start this is by sending an email explaining what you’re asking of them. That way they have a chance to do a review alone and bring a list to the meeting. Then set a time either virtually or in person to review what everyone has come up with.

We would almost guarantee that others will come up with some tasks or accomplishments that you forgot about that really impacted them. It’s a great way to hear from others, give them a voice and build community within your organization.

Throw a Celebration

This one is where you can get creative or keep it simple. There are so many options when it comes to doing a celebration. Virtual or in person; invite staff, volunteers, board members, community partners and share the successes you have uncovered in the previous above sessions. Give out “superlatives” for partner of the year or person with the most volunteer hours. If you’re in-person maybe have food or light snacks. If the budget is there, have giveaways. You can also pencil in time at an upcoming meeting or event to do this.

We hope this gives you a fresh outlook on why celebrating success – big or small – is so important, and that you’re able to implement some of these tips into your organization this year.

And remember, whatever you choose, make it work for your organization. There is no right or wrong answer when it comes to celebrating.