Do you serve on a Board of Directors or a Committee? Keys to having a better Board of Directors/Committee Experience…
If you have volunteered any of your valuable time to a non-profit organization whether serving on a Board of Directors or a Committee for a certain event, you have found one thing to be true…lots of meetings!! Why so many meetings? Could you accomplish the same things in a shorter amount of time or with fewer meetings? YES, you can. So, why don’t we? I say “we” because I have served on many BODs and Event Committees and have participated/sat through countless meetings. Firstly, there is a difference in participating in a meeting and just sitting through a meeting. Which do you do? In order to participate in a meeting, you would have to have done your homework prior to the meeting. In most cases there were a few take-a-way points from the last meeting that you needed to work on. It could have been a call you needed to make, an e-mail you needed to send, a form you needed to fill out, meeting notes to read, or a budget you needed to review. At the bare minimum reading the agenda prior to the meeting is something every board/committee member should do. Sadly, many don’t even bother. I believe this happens because many board/committee members don’t have a plan for the time they spend volunteering.
Here are 5 Keys to becoming a better and informed board/committee member:
1. Show up to each meeting early and get to know the other board/committee members. It is important to leverage the relationships in the group, which creates synergy and stronger relationships which will allow the group to accomplish more in a shorter period of time.
2. Bring your planner, calendar, smart phone calendar to the meeting. At the bare minimum a board member should have every board meeting date and major event dates of the organization in their calendar. (I recently gave a short presentation at a board or directors meeting regarding this simple and basic KEY. I asked how many of them had all the dates on their calendar. I was shocked to find the only one that had it all in their calendar was the board president. (No wonder we spend so much time scheduling and re-scheduling meetings–this is a complete waste of time.
3. If you volunteer to complete a task, for example, make a call, set up a meeting, follow up on a proposal, pick up some raffle items for an event, ask someone to join the board/committee, etc. write it in your calendar. Pick a date and time you will complete the task you volunteered to do. My motto is, If it’s not in my calendar it won’t get done. Even if you have to move the task, it is still in your calendar and will get completed in a timely manner. I find that most of the time these types of tasks only take a few minutes to complete; however, I continue to see time and time again, people showing up to the next meeting with the same story…Oh, I forgot, I’ll work on that as they write a note on the agenda in front of them, of which they will never read again after the meeting. The notes would be of better service being written in the calendar.
4. Have the organization’s event material handy and ready to quickly and easily pass it on to another. You never know when you will have that “chance” encounter with someone who needs to know about an upcoming event or a potential sponsor. It takes so much time and mental space for one to have to remember to get the information to the people they meet on a daily basis. How much time do you waste trying to find the information you promised to another? I keep a sub-folder in my Outlook E-mail with each event of the organization I serve. Whenever I get information that pertains to that event, I drop it in the folder so I can quickly and easily find the information. I make sure I have a PDF of the current event with the event details, sponsorship opportunities, or ticket information so I can quickly share it with someone on the spot. If you follow this one step, it will make your entire volunteer experience more enjoyable.
5. Know your “why” and always be “Next-working”. Serving on boards/committees is all about leveraging relationships in your community. One way I have found to take full advantage of my current relationships as well as being prepared for that “chance” encounter, I use my “why” as much as possible. When I have an opportunity to introduce myself and my business, I add…and I serve on the Board of Director’s for the (insert your organization here) because I believe we can improve the lives of those who need (insert the problem your organization solves) which enhances the lives of our entire community. Whatever your “why” is, know it! Practice it! Say it to everyone you meet! You will be amazed the doors of opportunity this will open for you and the organization you serve. Bonus Key…”Next-working” When you find yourselves in front of a potential board member, committee member, event sponsor or attendee, be thinking of the next step you need to take to get that prospect connected to your cause.
In my opinion these are the basics and should be part of the on-boarding process. (Executive Directors, take note) If you are going to spend your valuable time volunteering, why not create a simple plan, thus maximizing your time of service which will lead to a better experience for all involved.