Is your board still stuck in the 1980’s, or even earlier? It is not unusual for nonprofit boards to be set in their ways. Change is difficult for them, especially if some board members have been on the board for decades. As a result, it is easier for them to continue to do things the way they have “always been done,” rather than learn new ways of doing things. This is true even if the new ways are more efficient. That doesn’t mean you can’t be a board change agent and help modernize!
If you joined a nonprofit as a new board member who wants to help your board modernize, here are some effective ways to do that.
Most importantly, nonprofits need relationships in order to thrive and prosper. This means they must connect with other nonprofits and work in an assortment of sectors, with both governments and businesses. Bring up these relationships to your board, and remind them that relationships outside the nonprofit world are essential to better understanding your nonprofit’s place in the community. Furthermore, don’t forget to explore how other entities may be able and willing to support your work.
Use your own connections in these sectors as a starting point to show how effective it is to be a board change agent. Offer to talk to people you know in these other sectors,. Tell them about your nonprofit, and see if any collaborative and mutually beneficial projects can be developed between you. Ask that everyone on your board to do the same with their own outside connections.
Suggest everyone report on their findings at the next meeting. Your board will be surprised at how many good ideas and mutually beneficial relationships were made, and the exciting outcomes that result.
2. Encourage Innovation in Branding and Trust-Building with Another Board Change Agent
Your nonprofit must continually innovate in order to stay relevant in the 21st century. Nonprofits that invest in branding build trust among the community. The community includes governments, businesses, VIPs, potential donors, and regular citizens, all of whom may decide to become involved in the mission. First, you can start building rapport with other organizations by identifying the board change agents in their camp, and reaching out to them.
Next, look for innovative ways to get your nonprofit’s message out to the public. Use creative methods for reaching out to potential big donors and VIPs. Try using modern technology to create a brand image for your nonprofit and sharing that image with the public.
When your board sees you taking the initiative and notices the benefits it brings the nonprofit, you will be surprised at how many board members will want to do the same. This is your opportunity to teach them. Soon, all the members will be “on board,” and comfortable doing branding and innovation the modern way. Some of them may decide to be a board change agent, too!
It is important for everyone on the board to be passionate about the nonprofit, or nothing is going to get done. In fact, nonprofit boards experience a high rate of turnover because board members become bored, or believe the nonprofit is not going anywhere. They feel like their time and talents would be better spent elsewhere.
When you show your passion for your nonprofit by investing in upgrades that will help everyone do a better job, you will inspire others to renew their enthusiasm for their nonprofit work.
Once you take these actions and show passion and enthusiasm for them, your fellow board members will be eager to join in and help you. Thanks to you, their board change agent, they will see the potential for success and high achievements. Modernization is your key to energizing your nonprofit board for optimum results.
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