Take a Board Member to Lunch

Nonprofit board members are special people who work very hard on behalf of your nonprofit. How well do you know them?

Treat Your Board Members Well suggests that you should cultivate your board members like valuable donors. By cultivating them, you can increase their fundraising effectiveness. With this article, we move from the general to a specific example of cultivation.

The primary reason board members are on the board is because of their wisdom and passion for the mission and clients. A different form of cultivation is necessary to bring out their best as board members.

An annual lunch one-on-one between the each board member and the board chair and another lunch six months later with the senior professional (CEO, executive director, principal, etc.) will help to keep the enthusiasm of the board member high. In addition, it will provide the board members with an opportunity to:

Receive a personal thank you from one of the senior leaders

Make suggestions for improving the nonprofit’s and the board’s performance

Receive a personal update on the state of the board and nonprofit

Provide input on an issue you think the board member is especially knowledgeable about

Reveal their aspirations for the organization, his or her board service, and other aspects of his or her life

Ask the host to highlight the topics that are important to the board member

Receive some one-on-one coaching to help him or her become a more effective board member

Having both of the senior leaders (board chair and senior professional) do this at different times ensures that the evolving needs of each board member are understood. It also ensures that if a board member’s enthusiasm is waning there is an opportunity to discuss the cause without drawing undue attention.

Next Step:

Create a schedule for each leader to take every board member to lunch

Share the non-confidential findings with the other leader

Aggregate the confidential findings with other information

Take action on what is learned

This process helps increase board engagement and board member enthusiasm. Enthusiastic and engaged boards are better able to make the decisions that increase sustainability.

Soon it will be time to recruit new board members. Think about starting the recruiting process by taking prospective board members to lunch. A frank one-on-one conversation will give you valuable insights.

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