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Boards Need Focus, Boards Need Information

Nonprofit boards of directors work best when they’re focused like a laser on the mission. Whether it’s health, education, human service, arts….each nonprofit board needs to be clear on direction in order to achieve maximum effectiveness.
If it’s clear to us that we’re seeking a cure to a dreaded disease, or that we’re getting butts in the seats of our community theater, or that we’re out to reduce drug or alcohol addiction to a defined population, or that we want to get more kids interested in reading…once we all affirm what we’re going for it becomes easier to make the next level of decisions on strategies to get our goals accomplished.
Board of director meetings that spend their time deciding things that are operational are not making best use of their time. Staff leaders and board leaders need to work collaboratively to assure that meetings are strategically focused, that debate is leading to decisions that are best made at the board level, and that we have ways to measure how we’re progressing in getting to the goals we plan to achieve.
Boards whose members are clear about where they are going, are more willing to engage their resources, their networks, to get the mission accomplished. And this is what the customer or client needs to know is happening. That the leadership is working hard on their behalf to help them recover from an illness, experience quality programming in their venue, know they are getting great education making the tuition and time a worthwhile investment.
At the same time there is clarity around mission focus, staff and volunteers with marketing in their job descriptions should be tuned in to advances in social media. There are lots of great, bright communications stars available on the web through blogs, websites, Facebook, Twitter to check out and learn from. Recently, I read Jill Ward’s article Social Media, Integrated Marketing, and a Morning Out of the Office posted on Connection Cafe: Jill attended the Mass Comm Week program at Texas State University, and cited the speakers (including David Neff, Director of Web, Film, and Interactive at American Cancer Society) who shared their wisdom. Witnessing and hearing how some of the best in nonprofit management are doing helps stimulate thinking of all nonprofit leaders on how to apply social media to the NPO marketing mix.
Barak Obama was recently at Texas A&M speaking at the Points of Light Foundation which recognizes excellence in volunteers, started in the Bush 41 administration. President Obama was promoting United We Serve, established to grow the volunteer base in the USA. He called for a “public service mindset”:
Each nonprofit serious about growth, and applying the latest in marketing, technology, and social media to advancing its mission should be following these sources of leading edge thinking. So much to learn and so little time.
As I work with nonprofit organizations in New England, I find that the boards who are in sharpest focus, and who have a good diverse mix of skill and experience on board, are usually in the best position to benefit from the resources at all our fingertips.
Check out my previous posts for other links to helpful information that can get to where you want to go. Let me know how I can help you pick and choose from all these great options, and advise on educating and building your board of directors.

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