Thursday, March 1, 2012

Board Members or Bored Members?

Whether you have (or are building) an Advisory Board or official Board of Directors this group of individuals can seriously build resources (cash and human) and visibility for you—or be a lethargic, disengaged gaggle of needy folks.

Jennifer Wright Cook, our Executive Director, and James McLaren, Field Board Member, were panelists at today’s Devos Institute of Arts Management Seminar “maximizing Board productivity” for 200+ NYC arts organizations. Fellow panelists included Carol Ostrow, Producing Director and Jamie Harris, Board Member, from The Flea; and Gail Nathan, Executive Director, and Natalie Jeremijenko, Acting Board Chair and artist extraordinaire from Bronx River Art Center.

Top tips and takeaways:

1. It’s a relationship. Build it over time with trust.

2. Your Board is often your biggest donors – treat them as such!

3. Personalize it! Find something for each individual Board member to engage with you on. Something they enjoy too (not necessarily have your CPA Board member only do finances with you! She/he is with you for art joy too!)

4. Keep the Board excited! Communicate well and share the good news often!

5. Leverage good news for all it is worth (use your 5 year anniversary as an opportunity to celebrate in many ways; use it to up your give/get numbers and then maintain the $ level!)

6. Have an alignment element every year to ensure that Board and staff are aligned on mission and service delivery. Do we all agree to what we are doing? What is expected of you? Can you provide it? What can you provide? Etc.

7. Have an Advisory or Transitional Board (if you are in a transition!) to build your circle of influence, stakeholders and possibly money.

8. Have clear and forthright conversations with Board (and staff) about expectations, goals and desires. Spend time talking!

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