How to Keep Your Board Engaged

With Jennifer Thayer, Association Manager

An association’s Board is the backbone of the organization tasked with the dual mission of dealing with today’s challenges while keeping an eye on future opportunities. A Board is only as strong as the individual commitment of its members.  As an association management company, CMA has worked with a variety of Boards and has found these strategies effective for keeping a Board engaged:

Make sure the mission is front and center. Having a passion for your association’s mission creates excitement among Board members and helps everyone keep their focus on why everyone joined the organization in the first place.  It can be helpful to use the mission as a touchstone year round.

Create a structure with clear accountabilities. Board members have full time jobs, as well as personal lives, that demand their attention and can often conflict with their volunteer work with the Board.  To make sure their Board duties stay near the top of their list, it helps to have clear responsibilities and establish deliverables that everyone agrees to as a Board.  When people know what is expected of them, they usually deliver on it or at least can speak up if they can’t make that commitment.  Your Board’s Chairman or President is crucial in the process.

Make it a team sport. Having everyone reading from the same playbook and going in the same direction can really make the difference when it comes to a Board’s overall success.  While you don’t want stifle differing opinions or new ideas, make sure to remind everyone they are all on the same team and involved for the same core reasons. Getting the most out of your Board members requires having a good understanding of the individual personalities and the overall group dynamic. The more you know about each Board member, the easier it will be to know who should champion which project.

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