NOTHING is more important than the work of community revitalization organizations. Your community will live or die, based on your success. In meeting your organization’s mission, you can improve people’s lives, create local wealth, grow small business, provide people with pride, and dignity, foster healthier lifestyles, and allow residents to experience a sense of community and belonging- all while providing more opportunity and a sense of hope. Or you can just accept that your board members only want to listen to monthly reports.
Seriously, enough is enough. The work of community revitalization organizations is critical to the health of everyone that lives in your town. No one should have to live in a place they aren’t proud of. No parent should have to tell their kid that they should move-on after graduation. No one should be ashamed of the place they call home. Yet, the organizations that should be addressing all of these problems, rarely have the resources to accomplish anything.
Here is the basic problem, we thought that the best way to seek out new volunteers was to ask for the smallest commitment. In hopes of not scaring anyone away, organizations asked very little of potential board members. In effect, recruiting people with the concept of low standards. This is a problem that can, and must, be fixed.
There is never a time where it is too late to adopt higher standards. There is nothing wrong, at all, with facilitating a conversation with your board about this issue. I cannot stress this enough, the point of volunteering for an organization, is to achieve a sense of purpose and meaning. No one burns out from giving too much, they burn out from not achieving enough. Let’s not make our approach to board recruitment “are you free Mondays at 4pm?” Instead, offer them the chance to make an impact in the community and the opportunity to experience a sense of accomplishment. Let high standards and high expectations be your guide. It works for companies, it works for schools, it works for successful people, so, to deploy an opposite strategy for your board, is senseless.
Pull the bus over and have a conversation with everyone on it. Ask, if they think if the current route will get them to their destination, and please push them to be blunt, or bring in someone that will (I know a guy). Then ask them, if not, what would it realistically take for them to meet their mission. When I facilitate a board development meeting (aka Badass Your Board) it is important to separate the volunteer from their existing level of commitment. I ask them, if we had to start fresh, what would sort of commitment would each board member have to make for this organization to be successful.
The table is set. Now that board members are on record saying what the organization really needs, it’s hard to justify going back to normal. This achieves something incredibly important, it creates a polite opportunity for existing board members to bow out. Don’t panic, this is good. The last thing you want, is board members not up for the commitment, sticking around.
So please kindly inform your board members, that listening to monthly reports is a waste of time, or call me, and I’ll tell them. It is critical that your mission gets met, your board must provide you with the resources to do it. They must provide the leadership, the direction, the money and the effort. Give them a chance to experience the feeling of making a difference, anything else is a waste of time.