Meeting Them ½ - Way

on in Nonprofit
Well, let’s say, ¾ - way….

I’m talking about the idea that once board members get activated, it makes more work – for us, as staff.

We have to give them lists! We have to research options! We have to do the legwork! Yipes! We already have full-time-plus-plus-plus jobs…

It’s often true that once a board “catches fire” – the staff literally has to sprint to keep up with their enthusiasm. Board members get serious about asking other board members to bring personal friends to the benefit, and they start asking for info on how other organizations have transitioned a vendor-oriented event into one that feels appropriate for personal friends. They decide to run a family-oriented fundraiser, and ask for materials to be created. They brainstorm a Spring fundraising campaign, and ask for a wall-display to be created in the lobby.

All of these have direct returns for the dollars invested, so it’s easy to see the reward. But sometimes board members ask for info that isn’t so transparently remunerative. Like requesting data on economic trends in the neighborhood. Or 3-year projections of earned-to-contributed revenue. Or even past history of program graduates and “where they are now.”

But I was reminded of the necessity of all this – fundraising or not – when I was meeting recently with a group I’ve known for awhile, that’s really in trouble. A long-time funder suffered some extensive losses and pulled out, unexpectedly, contributing to a perfect storm that may leave them going under.

We’re helping them with scenarios, but the big question remains: Where’s the Board? Who’s the group sitting around the table, worrying this out? It’s just the founder, his devoted second-in-command, and one friend – and us. And that’s just not enough.

But the die was cast long ago, when the staff did it all, and the board – every once in a while – advised.

The moral? Be happy for a board that asks for work – and is ready to roll up their sleeves to deliver.

But we all knew that, right?
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