Advancement leaders tend to fall into 3 categories when it comes to their approach to Board member engagement:
- Keep Board members at arm’s length as much as possible because they are more nuisance than helpmate;
- Engage Board members as needed, primarily on their governance and fiduciary roles;
- Appreciate Board members and engage each in various ways to help advance the institution.
If you aren’t in the 3rd category, or moving toward the 3rd category, you should be.
It’s folly to expect Board members to show up more, give more, give more often, be vocal ambassadors for our cause, etc., if we are neglecting their relationship with us.
From research we know that volunteers give charitably up to twice as much as non-volunteers. From practice we know that Board members who feel more personally involved and appreciated by institutional leaders respond with more giving and more assistance.
A quick step to get you closer to category #3:
Today, start calling your Board members, one by one, with a quick but important message:
“You were on my mind and I just wanted to thank you for being such an important part of our mission and cause. I appreciate you.”
If we want Board members to respond like major gifts donors, we, first, should treat them that way.