From Bored to Blazing: Get Your Board Reconnected, Reengaged & Enthusiastic

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From Bored to blazing: 7 Steps to Get Your Board Reconnected, Reengaged and Enthusiastic
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This happens to too many boards – they lose their enthusiasm and zip. It’s sad to see in board members who have their energy to create change and make a difference in the world. Every board needs board training!

However, staff and board leaders can certainly change this situation using these 7 steps. What’s more, you’ll create happier board members as a result.

Here is our recipe for creating change, renewing enthusiasm and firing up these wonderful volunteers who care so much about your cause. But staff and board leaders also have to assume some responsibility.

Whether you are a staff member, manager, executive — or a board leader — the change will really start with you.  Be willing to be a spark plug of energy. Assume leadership if there is a void. Find a way to promote the idea of freshening things up and. . .  use these strategies to help.

Here are our 7 Steps to Fire Up Your Board:

1. Fire Up Their Passion by Asking Them To Share Their Personal Stories

Board members are serving on your board for a reason. It’s probably a deep personal — even emotional — connection with your mission.

Do you ever talk about it? Probably not. We have found that the quickest way to reengage board members’ passion for the cause is simply asking them to share their story of why they care.

Tip: Asking people why they care can open the floodgates of energy and commitment – even bring people to tears. 

2. Create Interesting Meetings

Ah, the boring board meeting. Fate worse than death?

Listening passively to presentation after presentation. Death by PowerPoint. There’s no interesting discussion. Or if there is a compelling discussion, it’s often on a trivial topic.

Yes, we’ve all been there!

Reorganize your agenda to put the boring topics last rather than first. Set a time limit on committee reports of only two minutes each. Create a consent agenda. Give your board chair training in meeting facilitation.

Tip: Check out our post: “12 Ways to Liven Up Your Board Meeting.” 

3. Clarify Their Roles and Scope

Often board members are confused about their exact role as a trustee of an organization. When that happens, board members can easily veer off into operational issues rather than big-picture strategy.  

It’s up to the staff leadership to guide the board. Help them determine what is appropriate for their attention and where they should steer clear. 

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Here’s the challenge: Based on variations in organizational culture, the organization’s history, and customs, often boards take on different scopes. For example, in smaller organizations, board members may assist in operational matters. In large organizations, board members tend to focus on building awareness and connections, external partnerships, and fundraising. 

Tip: It’s appropriate for staff leaders to take charge and guide board leaders to clarity their roles. Everyone will be much happier and more productive. 

4. Educate Your Board About Your Fundraising Program

Often board members have no idea how your organization raises money. They often don’t understand the ROI of fundraising, the concept of donor retention, and how they can help.

However, when board members are educated, then they will be much more helpful. Above all, they will be able to make far better strategy and budgetary decisions. 

Consider educating them on where the money comes from, AND where the money goes. Once they know the facts, they often get fired-up.

Try setting up these discussion questions:

  • Why does it cost so much?
  • Why do we need to spend money on this or that?
  • How much does it cost to help one kid (clean one stream, present one performance, etc.).

And the most important question your board members need to know is “What do we need the MOST but can’t afford?”

Tip: When board members understand the urgency and the numbers, they might be calling everyone they know to help. (We’ve seen it happen.)

5.  Decide on Action Items

What do your board members need to “do” in order to be good board members?

Simply attend meetings and offer their judgment and opinions?

We like to see board members equipped with the actions they are supposed to take.

Whether it is calling five donors to say thank you, or introducing five new people to your organization, or selling five tickets, or opening the door to an important connection, or advocating for your nonprofit at a community forum, or researching roofers so you can get a new roof donated — there’s lots they can do.

Tip: Send board members out the door with a clear idea of what they need to do between now and the next board meeting.

6. Give Board Members What They Want

Want to give board members a “terrific experience?” If you do, you’ll be rewarded with enthusiasm, energy and lots more engagement.

What do board members really want? June Bradham’s research in her book “The Truth About What Nonprofit Boards Really Want” shared some mind-blowing insights.

Ms. Bradham found that board members want to:

  • Work with people who are as passionate and excited about the organization as they are.
  • Feel that their time is used wisely.
  • Get their hands dirty with real work.
  • Meet the other board members.

If one of the top things board members want is to meet the other board members, then we recommend more social time. That’s why coffees and lunches before and after meetings are so important.

Social time helps foster closer personal relationships among your board members, and a sense of trust among them all. Then they can function better as a team or a committee.

Tip: Give your board members some meaningful work that will actually help your organization.  

7. Personally Take Charge 

Staff and board leaders really can step up and provide guidance to the rest of the trustees. They can gently lead everyone to focus on what’s most important, and stay away from the trivial. 

Lighten up. When you talk about fundraising or any strategy, see if you can smile. Show everyone that fundraising is not something to be feared. 

Model the energy that you want your board to have. Be a spark plug of energy and enthusiasm – it can be contagious. 

Bottom Line: Try Out These 7 Steps

Take the responsibility to rev up the energy and enthusiasm of your board.

Try these ideas and see what erupts. We’ve tested these strategies, and they really do work!

As always, it is a pleasure to share our weekly news and insights as we discuss new fundraising trends. 

If your organization is planning a capital campaign or launching a major gifts program – we can help. Send an email to if you’d like to schedule a free strategy call with us.