Engage.  Evaluate.  Evangelize.

There are many qualities you want in board members – and many responsibilities they need to be ready to assume.  Three of the most important responsibilities are to Engage, Evaluate and Evangelize.

All too often we hear horror stories of board members who are just warming a seat or building a resume on the back of your organization.  They aren’t actively engaged or even specifically passionate about your cause.

You need board members who are fully invested in the cause.  Active participation in establishing the organization’s vision, building your strategic plan, and ensuring the organization is meeting those objectives are critical.  If they aren’t ready to take those responsibilities seriously, you probably need to find different board members.

As fiduciary agents of your organization, the board has a responsibility to evaluate your fundraising efforts, ensuring that you’ve deployed the most efficient and effective strategies.  Just because something is quick or easy doesn’t necessarily make it effective.  This is where the real responsibility kicks in.  Anyone can recommend and approve the easy stuff.  Want to be more efficient?  Just move everything online.  It’s quicker and cheaper than the old school stuff like telemarketing, direct mail and major gift fundraising.  But it won’t be anywhere near as effective as the more difficult stuff.  You’ll lose money.  A lot.

Board members need to know how to assess opportunities for efficiency and effectiveness.  And they need to have the internal strength to say no to the techniques and tools that might look easy (or easier), but that ultimately have low potential ROI.

As volunteer leaders, your board members have the ability to significantly impact public opinion of your organization.   These unpaid advocates have the opportunity to share your mission, vision and goals with everyone they come in contact with.  If you’ve equipped them with the right tools and impact, they can make a significant impact for you.

Encourage board members to talk about you to their friends, business colleagues, in their houses of worship, during recreational activities, etc.  Providing board members with special pieces of information to share via social media will also keep them engaged and let them spread the word in a low-risk manner.  This is a great way to get your board engaged and enjoying their role without asking them (yet) to start asking for money.  Not everyone is comfortable (or good at) asking for money.  But every board member knows people and can share what they’re doing for your organization.