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Archive for the ‘Volunteers’ Category

Now that We’ve Got ’em, What Do We Do with ’em?

So the Governance committee has been out and about seeking volunteers who would like to join our Board. And who bring something we need to the table.
They identified a volunteer on the finance committee, and one from the HR committee who have worked with us for nearly two years and feel like the move up to the Board would be a good experience.
Our Board meets 4 times a year. Twice in fall, once in winter, once in spring. Off for the summer. Our chair runs excellent meetings. Never more than two hours. Always have a client join us to tell us her story at the start of our meetings. To set the right tone.
Beyond members of standing committees, Governance committee members recruited a couple of others from the community. We were fortunate to find an estate planner at a mid-size law firm in town who cares about our mission and would like to help us get our legacy giving program off the ground. And a small business owner whose Mom was helped by one of our program professionals decided this would be her opportunity to “give back.” She has been very generous in many ways. But it was pretty clear to the volunteers on Governance that this young lady is an eager-beaver whose business is soaring and who will bring some adrenaline to our cause.
So. Four new board members joining what will be a group of fourteen. Three members will rotate off. They have hit the ceiling on term limits and, no hard feelings, agreed it was time to move on. Good to know we can call on each of them if we need them.
So. Healthy board. Strong capacity for growth.
Outlook is good.

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‘Tis the Season to Thank the Board

Here we are in the days before Christmas. Staff party is all set. Hanukkah is happening for those of us of the Jewish faith. We have gifts for the mailman, the paperboy, the person who cuts our hair.

How about the Board? Some of us are lucky and have a Board member or three who send special treats for the staff to share. Now it’s time (hopefully not too late!) to return the favor and send a thoughtful something to our Board members. Thanking them for their service.
It could be something as simple as a greeting card. No doubt that will be appreciated. But maybe we can do something a bit more. We could get a few bud vases and deliver a small arrangement to members’ homes. We could invite Board members to our staff party. We could host an end-of-day reception just for them.

Something to let our leading volunteers to know they are appreciated.
Is there time do do something?

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Honoring All Those Who Serve

As Veterans’ Day approaches, I am taking a moment to acknowledge not only those who have defended the USA from attack in our military forces, but also Peace Corps volunteers who have taken assignments in remote villages around the world to share technology and other knowledge to improve quality of life; volunteers of all ages and experience who help nonprofits by serving meals at soup kitchens and working in hospitals to broaden service to those recovering from illness and surgery.
Thank you to all who pitch in to help make life better for others in varied roles.

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Finding the Right Members for the Effective Board

Last week I wrote about how nonprofit leaderscan go about identifying good candidates for their particular Board.
Part of the focus needs to be on people who share a passion for this nonprofit’s mission.
Here’s a way not to go about it.
A couple of years back, I was at Staples making copies of handouts for my nonprofit fundraising class. Another gentleman was there, making copies of a document. He noticed the subject matter of my material. He asked if this was part of my work. Within 5 minutes of the start of this casual conversation, he asked if I’d consider joining a nonprofit Board he was on that needed help.
Well, I had a clue right then and there why his Board was troubled.
The search and selection process for nonprofit volunteer leadership should be as rigorous as the process for seeking an executive director. There should be a job description, an interview and screening system, and a trial period; perhaps service on a Board committee first.
This is why more nonprofit Boards are designating a Governance Committee with the task of doing the nominating work, and bringing vetted candidates to the Board for consideration.
Thoughtful cultivation of volunteer leaders is a hallmark of an effective nonprofit organization.

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Executive Development of Fundraising Skills

Not all nonprofit executives come with abilities in fundraising. These are skills that develop over time. And I’m speaking from my own experience. I earned a Master of Arts in Teaching degree at the University of NH in 1971, taught junior high social studies for two years, and in 1975 found myself in Minneapolis Minnesota working at the American Lung Association, developing programs for kids with asthma. I got to work with a great staff and volunteer team, and together we built Camp Superkids into a strong teaching program for kids with moderate-to-severe asthma. And, just as important, for physicians working on pulmonary and allergy fellowships in Midwestern programs who loved the opportunity to come work with 125 kids in a camp setting and learn new things in a challenging clinical setting. And it turned out that this enterprise attracted money. and in 1979 I got the opportunity to move back to New England and become executive director of the American Lung Association of NH. The board of directors wanted to start some new programs there and thought I could help them do exactly that. And we did. But we also needed to raise some significant money to accomplish all they wanted to do. And I’d never done much fundraising up to that point in my life. But if I wanted to be their executive, I needed to learn to raise $$ quickly. It definitely was trial and error, but over a three year period we developed some new special events that raised significant dollars to advance the mission of the American Lung Association. And in New Hampshire we were recognized for fund raising achievement nationally. Some of it was luck. The key to our success was: Finding people who could do the job, and looking for examples that worked and doing the best we could to emulate stuff that seemed to work. And stuff that fit our culture. It started with Bike Treks, moved on to golf promotions, then on to kids fun passes, and then from there to a major gift campaign. A great events director, a great public relations director, and enthusiastic volunteers that wanted to be part of something that was delivering good respiratory health to kids and adults all worked together. It took time and hard work, but we did it. Part of it was the Board of Directors leaned on me to deliver. And I felt the pressure and responded. And when it came to major gifts, I returned the favor and leaned on the board to hone their fundraising skills. It wasn’t magic. But it worked.

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