How To Increase Nonprofit Board Engagement

Nonprofits with performance challenged boards should resolve to make improving board engagement a priority.

Here are five actions that will help increase that engagement.

  • Bridge the board member knowledge gap

Research from BoardSource shows a significant lack of understanding by board members about their roles and responsibilities. Is it reasonable to expect someone to meet performance expectations when they’re not sure what the task is?

When an individual is being considered for your board don’t assume they know what they need to know.

Achieve better awareness of the board’s duties by discussing with prospective board members, reinforcing with orientations, and reviewing during board meetings.


  • Prepare future leaders for success

There is research that indicates a large percentage of those in board leadership positions have not had prior experience in similar situations or formal training that enables them to successfully lead volunteers.

Be proactive in developing your future leaders. Identify skills such as board meeting facilitation that may be needed and provide training opportunities that will position them for success.


  • Communicate effectively

Communicating effectively is a key to successful relationships and directly affects engagement. And remember while frequency is important so is messaging and delivery.

To be a more effective communicator make time to understand individual communication preferences. Ask your board members how often they want to hear from you, what type of information is important to them, and what method of communication do they prefer. Also ask each board member for input on how your communication style can be improved.


  • Be intentional about board recruiting

Not having the best board members on your board has a direct influence on engagement. Individuals who are committed to your organization, have the experience and needed skill sets, and who have accepted the expectations for their service are going to be those who are most engaged.

Work in advance to identify board candidates based on what your organization needs and then who meets your criteria. Don’t wait until the last minute to fill board seats and be willing to settle for whoever you can get.


  • Use Planning as engagement tool

Quite often disengagement comes from expecting board members to take action on a plan that’s not theirs.

When conducting annual planning activity, make getting board involvement with developing the plan a top priority. Individuals who participated in creating a course of action are much more likely to support it and take action to meet their responsibilities for implementing the plan.

By committing to improve board engagement, and taking action your results will be much more engaged board members.

How does your organization ensure board engagement is meeting expectations?

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