Board Members: Your Communication Kings & Queens

BowieGuest blogger Susan Bowie is the Director of Nonprofit Strategy at the Community Foundation of Sarasota County She’s a passionate and talented force for good,  helping organizations in the region develop their nonprofit marketing finesse.

Have you crowned your board members yet?

These Kings and Queens of Communications are–or should be–your organization’s number one messengers. To uphold the royal crown, each board member should be

  • A donor, making at least one financial gift that is meaningful to her each year, without being asked.
  • An ambassador, talking about your organization in her various networking circles of friends, family, colleagues and business associates.
  • An informant, always holding up her antennae for news, events and discussions that could influence your organization’s mission and work in the community.

Your staff or board chair should help equip your board members with several pieces of bling for their communication crowns:

  1. Good stories about what your organization is accomplishing.  It’s great to share a few compelling stories about your organization’s success with board members. It is even better to let them witness the creation of good stories by observing your programs in action. Offer those opportunities and expect board members to make the time to show up. You will notice that it becomes easier for them to speak about your organization from the heart.
  2. Your organization’s greatest needs.  Keep your board members up to speed about your greatest funding needs so they can speak intelligently with potential donors, funders and supporters in a unified voice. Since your most pressing needs may change from month to month, consider including an item in each board meeting’s consent agenda listing your five greatest needs.
  3. Your organization’s Guidestar profile.  Everyone can view your organization’s Guidestar profile (and your Giving Partner profile if you’re in Florida’s Sarasota, Manatee, Charlotte or DeSoto Counties) . Do your board members know what members of the public are reading there? These profiles are filled with information information about your organization, including your board members’ names as the guys and gals in charge. So make sure they’re familiar with that content, so they can pick up the conversation and move it forward.

Encourage your board to share your organization’s news (as appropriate) on social media. You might send them sample messages they can customize to make things super easy.

Consider having board members rotate turns at board meetings sharing an example of how they talked about your organization to others over the last month–two minutes or less. (Thanks to Marguerite Griffin, Northern Trust’s National Director of Philanthropic Services, for this great suggestion.)

How are you asking, training and supporting your board members to be effective messengers?  Please share your approach here.

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Guest Blogger on November 6, 2013 in All-Org Marketing Team | 4 comments
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  • Kim East

    Great tips! Thanks for the post, Susan. I agree with the idea of asking board members to be messengers for your organization — and of course properly training and supporting them in that role. I wrote a recent blog post that touches on the same idea of using your board as storytellers. It’s about a different approach taken by one of our fellow community foundations to think culture and focus on the person not so much the skills when recruiting:

  • gailperry

    Great post! I think board members’ #1 job is to be personal advocates for the cause. They really enjoy this job because it is not intimidating. Our challenge is to help them with their elevator speeches. They need real practice talking about our organization’s work. This is such an important part of board training that we very often ignore!

  • Gail, I agree that asking, and training, board members to be effective messengers is key! So often that is a delicate conversation, due to board member egos. Any suggestions for navigating when folks think they’re strong messengers, but aren’t?

  • Pingback: Turn Your Board Members Into Messengers | OnPoint, the Protech Blog()

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