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3 Keys to Building Board Member Rapport

Being a board member is a huge commitment that is more rewarding for everyone when there’s a group bond. Board member rapport makes for a great collective dynamic, and three simple steps can make that magic happen.

1. Invest in board members’ well-being.

Welcome new board members festively. Include refreshments at meetings (if you’re able to meet in person) and some unstructured time for the group to get to know each other. Sometimes a simple invitation to grab a bite to eat before or after the meeting opens the door for great conversation and time to get to know each other.

During a slow period, consider planning a retreat (even virtually!), focused on wellness, joy, and building board member rapport. Be sure there’s buy-in from all members of the group. A poll can pinpoint potential venues and activities that everyone in a diverse group can find enticing. The idea is not to create another task, but to offer a perk.

Why do this? Because a board that gathers for enjoyment is able to pause and become friends. And real, personalized commitment can grow. A nonprofit’s investment in its board member rapport and well-being counts.

2. Keep those eyes on the prize!

The path of a principled nonprofit, like the course of true love, is oftentimes not smooth. Expect periods of stress and strain, especially when donors and prospective donors worry about the economy.

To reduce stress and make breathing space for camaraderie and rapport, keep the long run in mind. This means:

  • When “other nonprofits” seem to be getting ahead through shortcuts or empty emotional appeals, acknowledge your board for having the confidence to find a better way.
  • If your organization has stayed true to its core values, it is succeeding—and the instinct to assign blame should never arise.
  • While fundraising is always important, a nonprofit organization’s ultimate goal is not making every possible dollar for shareholders. Encourage board members to take pride in their diligent adherence to foundational principles.

The future has good things in store. Focus on creating them. In the long run, your nonprofit will win and keep strong, committed donors.

RELATED: Virtual Board Meetings: A Nonprofit’s Guide to Success

3. Structure meetings well, but allow for board member rapport.

A good board meeting is planned. Organized. Focused. Yet it is also a gathering of people. To bring out the best in everyone, seek a good blend of focus and connectivity.

  • Good planning and rule adherence are the keys to good meetings. They allow for focused communication that respects everyone.
  • On the other hand, informal talk is connective energy. Think about how best to engage people as people. A board chair might include a question and offer everyone the opportunity to speak to it. Speaking “round robin” from time to time offers a chance for everyone to hear and be heard, to understand and be understood.

When a difficult agenda item looms, prepare to address it by asking each person on the board for one phrase that represents what they think about it. This allows everyone to have a sense of where others are coming from before the substantive discussion begins.

Additionally, make virtual meetings interactive. A cutting-edge board portal enables great work to happen remotely. To give online meetings a dynamic feel, spread the agenda topics around to multiple discussion leaders so everybody’s engaged.

Trust at the Core

Essentially, getting that perfect board member rapport means cultivating trust. Rapport enables a nonprofit to function at its highest level, while enriching the lives of those who guide it.

So, lead on! And treasure relationships as you go.


Interested in how to make your board of directors more productive through the effective use of technology? Boardable is a software platform that centralizes all communication between you and your board. Find the best meeting times, securely store all of your documents, archive discussion threads and more—all in one place. Click below to schedule a demo with a member of our Boardable team.

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