3 Keys to Strengthening Board Engagement

picture of diverse board members in conversation

Many of the organizations I work with express concern over getting their board members engaged in the work of the board. Some organizations have members who do not consistently attend meetings, others have members who attend and do not contribute, and still others have members who attend and contribute, but only at a bare minimum. Oftentimes, the Executive Director finds herself working with twenty percent of the board performing eighty percent of the necessary work.  And the work, if you understand the full complement of the roles and responsibilities of a board member, is not a short list. 

How can a Board Chair or Executive Director effectively engage his board members?

It is all about getting to the R.O.O.T. of the MatterSMRecruit. Orient. Ongoing Training.

1. Recruit with intention. The board must identify the skill sets it needs, know where to find prospects that satisfy those needs, and work on cultivating the prospects.   

2. Orient the new board member to his roles, responsibilities, and expectations, as well as to the organization and its history, programs, strategic plan, and more. 

3. Provide ongoing training to board members throughout their service on the board. Keep them informed about news, issues, and activities that impact the organization as well as their understanding of their continuing responsibilities.   


So what does this mean? What am I saying?

Many times people do not engage in discussions or participate in activities because they do not know or fully understand what it is they are to do! Once you have recruited the right person to your board, you must ensure she knows what to do. You must ensure she is properly trained and educated about board service and your agency throughout her tenure and not just on day one. This means you must have a formal orientation process. This also means you need to provide training opportunities for board members as part of board meetings and board retreats.

These 3 keys should lead you to additional questions: How do I identify the skill sets my board needs at any given time? Where do I find prospective board members? What should an orientation look like? How do I incorporate training into board meetings and retreats? How do I know what my board members need or want that would encourage their engagement? 


Answers to these questions will be presented during a free class on Wednesday, February 24 at Foundation Center Atlanta. Register for The Secret to Recruiting and Orienting New Members here.

Glenda Hicks headshot

Glenda Hicks is a Certified Public Accountant, with a solo practice in Marietta, GA. Glenda exclusively serves nonprofit organizations in the areas of financial management, financial leadership and board governance through training, consulting, executive coaching, and assessment services utilizing her 28 years of professional experience. Glenda is a BoardSource Certified Governance Trainer, having joined a select group of trainers proficient in board governance topics, advanced facilitation techniques, and the BoardSource training methodology.