The success and future of your organization arguably rest on the shoulders of the nonprofit board you’ve assembled. Whether it’s a charitable cause or trade association, there is a never-ending search for leadership. But once a board member takes their seat, how do you keep them? Do you have board members who wonder why they are there?

Board training. Over the years I’ve heard directors say they really don’t know what their “job” is. Just because they are a good soul and want to help their industry or cause, doesn’t mean they are prepared to do so. This is the time for them to understand the expectations you have of and for them and for them to reaffirm their commitment for service.

Play to their skills. Why are they on the board? What is their talent, skill, or contribution to be utilized? Or did another board member just drag them into the circle because there was an empty seat? People know what they’re good at. Make certain a new board member is successful early on using the strengths they brought in the door.

Call them. Seems obvious but, other than sitting for zoom calls, some board members are never contacted. I’m talking about one-on-one chats with the president.  Are you getting their view of how things are going? Step out of the box and ask for input that they may be too reticent to offer. I’ve seen very successful professionals stay mute in meetings for months and longer. Time to have an in-person or virtual coffee meeting.

Why do members join an organization? For real and perceived value, to serve their cause or industry, and to connect with like-minded people. That goes double for those who would agree to serve on a board of directors. Board presidents must be the ones who contact board members every few months to find out if the commitment is working for them. If it isn’t, they’ll be gone.

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