A few days ago, you probably made some personal resolutions to get the New Year off to a great start. When you made those resolutions, did you think about your role on the Board of Directors of your favorite non-profit? Here are four resolutions to keep your organization on track in the coming year:
1. Promote the organization.
There is probably a membership committee that is expected to develop campaigns and do outreach, but it’s not solely the membership committee’s job. Those serving at the highest levels within the organization should seek out and seize opportunities to share his/her story about why the organization’s mission is critical and ask others to join the cause. I once heard that people don’t join groups, they join people, so make those personal connections to help grow your organization this year.
2. Stick to the agenda.
Hopefully you are receiving materials for your board meetings at least one week in advance. Before the meeting, take time to review and understand the items to be covered. During the meeting, avoid straying to other topics. Off-topic items can derail attention to key matters. If you have an agenda item, take time to prepare for the dialogue by providing relevant information to the Chair in advance of the meeting. This will allow your topic to be given ample time and consideration by the board.
3. Be a diligent decision maker.
New ideas and projects are continually being considered by the Board of Directors. Good decision makers take into consideration both the financial outlay and human resources needed for a project. Here are the key questions you should be asking: How much staff time is needed? Can changes be made to current initiatives to free up staff hours or will it be necessary to increase staff for the new project? Are there opportunities for outsourcing? Is sufficient cash available for the project? Can volunteers be utilized? This will make you a good decision maker and fulfill your Duty of Care, one of the legal principles of volunteer leadership.
4. Leave personal agendas at home.
There are times when a leader brings a specific “agenda” that he/she may feel is aligned with the group’s mission. Often, the availability of resources is not considered and/or the desired outcomes are not closely aligned with the strategic plan. During pursuit of this “agenda,” other more critical areas will likely be neglected and the planned growth of the organization may be slowed.
In short: share your passion, be prepared, be diligent, and stay focused!