Giving Compass' Take:

• Joan Garry, writing for Blue Avocado, discusses how board members can create successful relationships with organizations that will lead to more engagement and increased fundraising efforts.

• For individual donors, joining a board can be a great way to engage with organizations, understand board dynamics, and learn about what it takes to make meaningful change happen.

• Learn more about board governance and leadership here


Let’s face it. Board bashing is something of a sport amongst nonprofit leaders, especially executive directors and CEOs. There are two primary complaints I hear all the time, both of which are surprisingly solvable!

First, too many nonprofit leaders expect board members to be human ATMs. “Go raise lots of money or write big fat checks and leave me to do my important work!” Fess up if you’ve said these words aloud to a colleague, your spouse, or your imaginary friend, or if they’ve appeared as an invisible thought balloon above your head during a board meeting.

Secondly, EDs are endlessly frustrated by board members who are not engaged.

Every day I deal with dysfunctional nonprofits (the functional ones don’t call me), and I have developed a clear diagnosis. Lack of fundraising, giving, and engagement—these are symptoms, not the illness. But the good news, is, there’s a proven method for increasing both fundraising and engagement, and it’s something that you as an ED can control. Ultimately, it comes down to the old saying, “If you want money, ask for advice; if you want advice, ask for money.” By meaningfully engaging your board in strategic decisions, they’re much more likely to give, contribute in other ways, and engage, all because they feel more connected to the work.

All too often, board members do not understand the full breadth of responsibilities that come with board service, so something as simple as crafting a short Board Member Agreement can easily, effectively address this. After all, board responsibilities, when ignored or handled poorly, can weaken an organization (that’s a best-case scenario) or totally jeopardize the sustainability of it.

Read the full article about creating successful board relationships by Joan Garry at Blue Avocado.