As a board member, now for NTEN and in past years for other organizations, I'm been highly aware of how organizations manage their boards. I have lots to contribute as a board member but that's more in the skills and relationships department, rather than a major gift that's going to be a life-changer for the organization. I love an org that puts its board to work, doing.
So I was pleased to see a recent Nonprofit Times e-article on training your board to be effective marketers. The article suggested ensuring your board members can deliver your key messages and writes letters-to-the-editor (that needs to be a carefully-monitored strategy, as I see it).
Here are the my recommendations on how to put your board to work as effective communicators:
- Make sure they know your org's talking points and elevator pitch cold. Provide board members with 3×5 cards (or an email they can save in their smartphones) with three or four key messages. The elevator pitch is theunder-a-minute spiel that can be given in the time you're in an elevator. It should be short, simple and make an emotional connection. No more than two to three sentences.
- Share your marketing strategy and clarify how board members can help. It's hard to be an effective messenger without an understanding of the larger framework. Review how you're putting communications to work to advance organizational goals, communications goals, target audiences you need to reach to make that happen, strategies, work plan and how you'll be evaluating impact.
- Train, don't tell. It's far too easy for us communicators to forget that real people don't know what we do. I urge you to have a real, sit-down training session (60 minutes should do it) to give board members some practice and increase their comfort level with their new role. It'll make a huge impact in their impact.
P.S. Need to strengthen your messaging? Download the free Nonprofit Tagline Report for must-dos, don't dos, case studies and 1,000+ nonprofit tagline examples!
Photo: Flickr terrierman