Why don’t your board members do what you want them to do?

Mon, Feb 27, 2012 at 11:15AM

Hardy Smith, Nonprofit Consultant & Speaker

Preachers Don’t Do Weather

The Gatorade Duel at Daytona International Speedway is an incredible event. The grandstands are packed with NASCAR race fans who, along with a tremendous television audience, are electrified by the pair of unique action packed qualifying races for the prestigious Daytona 500.

Assisting with pre-race ceremonies was one of my race day duties when I worked for International Speedway Corporation. One particular race morning stands out because of a lesson from Reverend Hal Marchman.

Hal was a fixture at the speedway and delivered invocations prior to events for years.

The weather was growing ominous, and a usually sunny Florida morning was moving toward midnight black. It looked as if the day might be lost.

Someone on the pre-race stage turned to Rev. Marchman and jokingly suggested, “You gotta do something about this weather!”

The quick-witted Hal responded, “Look, I’m in sales not management.”

 

Just as preachers don’t do weather, board members of nonprofit organizations often don’t do what their nonprofit wants them to do.

Reverend Marchman’s response provides a great message that I share in my work to help nonprofits answer the question, “Why don’t board members do what they’re supposed to do?”

To get a certain job done you’ve got to go to the people who can accomplish the results you are looking for. Don’t assume you know who that is.

My research on this topic and my experience with nonprofits show that not following this advice is an all too common mistake frequently repeated by too many organizations. Case in point: board members and the assumption that they will be effective fundraisers.

Some people feel uncomfortable asking others for money. Yet what do most nonprofits expect their board members to do?

The predictable frustration when assigned fundraising goals aren’t met can be avoided.

When considering prospective board members, first, don’t assume you know their ability for fundraising. More important, don’t assume you know their willingness to be actively engaged with soliciting funds.

Instead, have a thorough screening process prior to contacting potential board prospects. Then, when you interview them, carefully communicate whatever will be expected. If you aren’t convinced they can get the job done or if they aren’t firmly committed to the task at hand, then they are just not a good fit, despite what you may have assumed.

If you want to change the weather, follow Rev. Marchman’s advice and don’t depend on a preacher. Go to a higher authority. If you want to have fundraisers on your board, don’t take just anyone. Find those who are ready, willing, and able to be fundraisers!


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