Dear board volunteers . . . let’s get on the same page, please?

mardi gras mask10DonorDreams blog is honored to be hosting the May 2013 Nonprofit Blog Carnival. The theme this month is “Dear board volunteer . . .” and the idea is “If you could write an anonymous letter to a nonprofit board about something they do that drives you crazy, what would that letter look like and what suggested solutions would you include?” If you are a blogger and would like more information on how to participate and submit a post for consideration, please click here to learn more.

I wanted to expand the Nonprofit Blog Carnival concept in May. So, I reached out to real non-profit professionals and asked them to also write an anonymous letter to their board volunteers. These people are executive directors, fundraising professionals, board members, donors, community volunteers, consultants and front line staff. I promised everyone anonymity in exchange for their submissions.

We will celebrate May’s Nonprofit Blog Carnival on Wednesday, May 29, 2013. Up to that fun-filled day, I will publish real anonymous letters every day from real non-profit professionals right here at DonorDreams blog.

I hope you enjoy this real look at real issues that our community deals with on a daily basis.

Here is today’s letter:

Dear Board Volunteer:

Together, we share a partnership. We are in this together.

I realize that you can only devote a portion of your life to our mutual cause and that it is my full-time responsibility, and then some. I am mindful and respectful of your time, and I hope that likewise you are respectful of mine. However, if and when (probably more like when) we are in “crisis mode” when we need each other, then we are available for one another regardless.

Our relationship needs to be one that is open, honest, and brutally frank. We both want the best for our organization and we both work hard to achieve excellence. I will always tell you the absolute truth, never hiding any information or embellishing it on all topics. I expect the same from you.

I can’t do the job by myself. I rely on our staff and I also rely on you as well as our other volunteers to make it work. Working together collaboratively gets a lot more done and in faster time.

If you’ve had issues as an organization before I got here, don’t expect that just by hiring me that the problem will all quickly go away. I know how to fix them, but I will need your support and the staff’s support to really get the job done — and it will take time because we are dealing with a cultural change of doing things differently to improve the results. Some “sacred cows” will have to be slaughtered along the way and not everybody will be happy, but the organization will be stronger in the end as a net result.

You are paying for my leadership, experience, advice, and expert counsel. Please pay attention and follow my recommendations to help improve the organization. These recommendations are based on years of experience, sound business principles, and best practices.

Our board should be composed of people of influence and affluence. We can have other groups that are “working groups”, but our board needs to be the absolute top of the community power structure for our organization to thrive. If we have a board composed of less than that, then we will not be maximizing our organization’s full potential.

My view is that the board establishes a vision for the organization, oversees its governance, approves an annual budget, raises funds for the organization, and employs the Executive Director. The staff is hired by and reports to the Executive Director to execute the plan for the organization. The staff runs the day-to-day operation of the organization within the confines of the established budget and resources. The staff does NOT report to the board, but to the Executive Director.

There will come a time when we disagree with one another on something important. To the best of our abilities, we will do so privately, iron out those differences behind closed doors, and then come out publicly with one agreed upon course of action.

Thank you for being a board member of our great organization!

Best regards,
Your Executive Director

If you have some advice for the author of our anonymous letter, please share it in the comment box at the bottom of this post in a respectful manner.  If you want to submit an anonymous letter for consideration this month, please email it to me at the address in your signature block below. If you are a blogger looking to participate in this month’s Nonprofit Blog Carnival and want to learn more, then please click here.

Here’s to your health!

Erik Anderson
Founder & President, The Healthy Non-Profit LLC!/eanderson847

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