Fundraising for Small Groups Newsletter

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December 14, 2018

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How Small Nonprofits Can
Reinvigorate Bored Boards

by Sandy Rees

Bored boards are a sign of an organization that is headed down a slippery path toward big trouble. It can lead to an Executive Director who does whatever she wants (not always a good thing) or financial crisis or worse, a complete deterioration of the organization.

You probably know the signs that your Board is getting bored: folks don't show up to meetings and don't let you know beforehand that they won't be there; they don't respond to email or phone calls; they don't sign up to help with events or other activities; and so on.

To reverse the situation, you must first figure out what this behavior is about. Are they completely disinterested for a particular reason? Do they have so much confidence in the ED that they don't feel the need to do anything? Are they lazy? Or just not engaged? Once you figure out the root of the inactivity you can do something about it.

Next, it's time to clean house. Your Board President or other leader needs to address the Board and have some frank discussion about the situation. (Sometimes the Board President IS the problem and you need another leader to take the reigns here.) Tell the Board that the current way of operating isn't working and isn't supporting the organization, and it must be changed for the good of the organization. If folks don't want to do something different, it's okay for them to resign. If there are folks who need to be let go because of attendance problems, thank them graciously for their service and tell them that you are taking their name off the Board list for now because they are obviously too busy to serve right now. (I call this "Bless and Release").

Next, you need to recruit some fresh leaders. Use a matrix to help you determine the skills and talents you need on your Board. Then, get started recruiting. Remember, it's better to have quality not quantity when it comes to Board members. Think about friends of the organization first - volunteers and donors - because they already have an interest and commitment to your work. As you recruit new people, make it clear what you expect of them, including fundraising. This sets an expectation from the get-go that they will need to help out with raising money.

Once you get a few new people in place, make sure you are doing what you need to do to keep them. Make your Board meetings interesting and engaging by incorporating lots of discussion about future plans. Involve folks in ways that are meaningful to them (this will be different for each person and you're going to have to have individual conversations with them to determine what this is). And don't forget to thank them for their service.

I've coached lots of Boards through this process and it isn't always pretty, but the result is really worth it!

copyright © Sandy Rees, CFRE - Reprinted with permission

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About the Author:

Sandy Rees is a nonprofit fundraising coach, consultant, trainer, and author. She shows small nonprofit organizations how to raise more money, gain more supporters, and strengthen their Boards. Learn more about successful fundraising and Board development and get free fundraising tips in her e-zine "Bright Ideas for Fundraising" on her website at

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