Non-profits need more board volunteers like Mike

advocacyAs many of you know from previous blog posts, I’ve facilitated a ton of “board roles and responsibilities” trainings this year. So, the curriculum is fresh in my mind, which is why what happened on my Facebook page a few days ago struck me as awesome. Before I tell you about what happened, let’s quickly recap the following key points with regard to board roles and responsibilities:

  • There is a difference between the board’s collective responsibilities and an individual’s roles
  • An individual board member is responsible for being engaged (e.g. attending meetings, reviewing materials, preparing for meetings, asking questions, etc)
  • Board volunteers should look for people in their circle of influence, who are interested in the agency’s mission, and engage them in volunteer and fundraising activities
  • Individual board members are asked to make financial contributions and engage in the organization’s resource development program
  • Board volunteers need to participate in planning activities (both for the board’s internal activities and the agency’s external direction)
  • Individuals need to find opportunities to talk about and advocate for their non-profit organizations (e.g. chamber after-hours, social parties, etc)

In a nutshell, non-profit boards collectively: 1) establish identity and strategic direction; 2) ensure resources; and 3) provide oversight. An individual board volunteer understands that apart from the board’s collective responsibilities their personal role at the boardroom table is: 1) being active and participating in the work of the board, 2) staying informed, 3) promoting the organization, 4) safeguarding ethics and values, and 5) upholding legal obligations.
OK . . . with this in mind, let’s commence with the Facebook story.
On Saturday, my partner and I realized we had fallen behind on picking the cucumbers in our garden. So, we decided to quickly do some harvesting before running off to a wedding reception. Little did we realize how crazy things actually were in our garden.

Twenty minutes later we were the proud owners of 25 pounds of cucumbers! 

After washing our bounty, we stacked the vegetables and I decided to take a stupid picture of my partner posing with the cucumbers in our kitchen. (See picture below)
IMG_20140726_162802596[1]
What do people do with these types of pictures nowadays? Of course, they post them to Facebook.  😉   And so I did.
In addition to the picture, I posted the following verbiage:

“OMG … This is after we gave a whole bag away to a neighbor.

Michelle Obama told the nation to plant gardens, but she never warned us about this.

Thank goodness that John Zawada learned how to can relish and pickles.

Eeeeeeeeek!”

Mike WarrenAt first, there were the comments ooooooohing and aaaaaaaahing over the silly picture.
Then there were those people who commiserated with our plight.
And then a friend of mine, who serves on a local non-profit food pantry board of directors weighed in and said the following:

You can drop the extras at Food for Greater Elgin when you have too much.

Now this might seem like a non-event, but this response did my non-profit heart good.
Why?
In my experience, I don’t see many board members advocating like this for their non-profit agencies. Of course, you see them standing in front of the city council advocating for a grant from time to time. However, I just haven’t seen many board volunteers advocating in smaller social settings (e.g. cocktail parties, social media, etc) for mission-related issues.
So, this morning I decided to use my bully pulpit to recognize this good deed and remind board volunteers that advocacy is one of their many roles and responsibilities. AND most importantly . . . advocacy doesn’t have to be standing on top of the mountain every day and shouting the praises of your agency. It can be as simple as commenting on a friend’s Facebook status when the topic aligns with your organization’s mission.
How do you provide support and encouragement to your agency’s non-profit board volunteers when it comes to advocacy?  Please share your thoughts and experiences in the comment box below.
Here’s to your health!
Erik Anderson
Founder & President, The Healthy Non-Profit LLC
www.thehealthynonprofit.com 
erik@thehealthynonprofit.com
http://twitter.com/#!/eanderson847
http://www.facebook.com/eanderson847
http://www.linkedin.com/in/erikanderson847

2 comments

  1. I am not a board member myself but a simple volunteer for my local Boys and Girls Club and sometimes these opportunities to advocate for my local club just pop up. It can be quite fulfilling to take advantage of those opportunities. Although a reminder like this is really helpful too!! Thanks Erik.

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