She’ll Be Coming Round The Mountain…

on in Fundraising

We were facilitating an anniversary planning meeting the other day for an organization that was trying to think about what its 25th anniversary meant to them.

One of their oldest board members wistfully recollected the early days when the board was intimately concerned with producing the organization’s programming. “We were really involved then – now it’s all money and budgets and planning. But back then, we met everyone who came in here…we had our fingers on the pulse.”

What do you do when you have a venerable and valued board member who’s attached to the old days? To the old ways of being a hands-on board member? Someone who’s historically important and a moral bellweather – and who still brings in resources even though they’re getting more and more disenchanted with the new meaning of being a board member?

How do you move them along, and keep them with you at the same time?

The answer is exactly what we were doing – having a group conversation about what matters most to the organization – to reassure them that board service is not just budgets and numbers crunching, but is in fact determining the future of the institution.

By involving them in thinking and in re-attaching to why they’re really here.

By the end of our meeting, this board member was fully engaged in the weighty question of who the organization’s changing constituency was, how the old and new were mixing together, and how the notion of “engagement” could be used as an institution-wide theme to open up conversations with the organization’s audiences, staff, donors, and even board.

Just as we were doing in this planning meeting.

Sometimes, to get a board member away from the day-to-day, or from the rose-colored glasses view of when day-to-day programming was the board’s primary concern, what’s really needed is to open up the conversation. To make it meaty, and to make it matter.

Not that there’s no numbers crunching at the board level – but that that alone is not enough.

 

 

Originally published June 8th 2010

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