Who Knows Who You Are: Do You Care?May 09, 2022
Who knows you?
I once conducted a survey of staff of not-for-profit agencies. Among the shocking findings was that most did not know who was on their board (or parenthetically why). Even more extreme, at least to us, the researchers, was that most (yes, most!), did not know if the board was elected or appointed, and if appointed, by whom. Wow.
Now, this may not matter to you.
But let’s just unpack this a bit, as “they” say.
You, of course, believe that you are the exception. If you have evidence beyond anecdotes, great. There will be few of you.
Your Public Profile
There is no question that public profile enhances public standing, which enhances recruitment to the board, which enhances community connections, which enhances planned giving and favourable policies and funding, which enhance impact, which… Well, you get the picture.
How can we say (ever so smugly) that we have a public profile if even our own staff do not know who we are or what we do?
Of course, there are a few rather simple remedies that you might consider…
Support my work by sharing this blog with a friend or colleague. Thank you!
As you onboard new staff, do they have an opportunity to meet the board at a reception for them? Even if this is only an intermittent event? Or even if it is for one person, perhaps before a board meeting?
Do you have a group of staff members (a department, e.g.) present what they do to the board, whether at a public or private meeting? With a chance to ask questions? And your Chief Executive Officer should be of sufficient self-confidence to encourage open and honest discussion.
Is each board member a liaison with a department, program or service, or location if you are of sufficient size? This is not to encourage end-runs around the CEO but to allow the board as a whole to become better informed. And of course, the board member must show up and report back…
Does the chair speak at, and do board members attend, professional and staff development programs and days?
Remember: you are not the professionals. You are not there every day. You have confidence in your CEO. But you can show interest. And you can learn more about operations so that you can make better policy decisions.
Raising your profile with your (however defined) community can certainly be daunting.
It should not be so daunting to raise your profile with your own staff. Who also have community connections and a voice for the organization.
How do you handle this liaison and profile?
What is your written plan?
The Essential Training Every Board Member Needs
Our spotlight course is designed for CEOs/Executive Directors, Board Chairs, and those who are interested in leadership positions on not-for-profit, for-impact boards.
Six weeks. Three brief video lessons with handouts per week (watch at your convenience) plus additional downloadable resources. 30-day money-back guarantee.
In this one-month course, you will move from feeling reticent and tentative to competent and confident, asking good questions and making great contributions.
The course complements and reinforces your on-site orientation and opens new channels of communication and discussion.
Four weeks. Two brief video lessons (watch at your convenience) per week plus downloadable handouts. 30-day money-back guarantee.
P.S. May I ask a tiny favour?
Would you mind sharing this blog with one person? I would love it. You can get more of our thoughts on Facebook and LinkedIn. Join our Facebook Group for Executive Directors and Board members: Governance as Leadership