Ten Ideas (Most are Easy!) to Engage Your Board

How to build a high-performing board is a perennial topic amongst our client base. Presidents and Directors regularly share what works, what doesn’t and their frustrations on how best to effectively work with their boards. It’s a key role of leaders to maximize those board relationships. When it’s working, it can really take your organization to the next level, whether through better community or government connections, invaluable expertise, or access to additional resources.

Over the next several weeks we will be posting ideas, resources and recommendations related to board governance, as it is a growing area of business for us. We’ll be sharing more about what we’ve been learning around building a more diverse board, the board’s role in succession planning, and conducting a board assessment. To get us started, here are ten tips to employ for greater board engagement:

  1. A Trustees' role isn't always fundraising; acting as an ambassador for the aquarium/zoo in the community, “friend-raising", and bringing connections to the organization are all roles board members should also play.

  2. Regular communication between board and staff leadership is critical; some suggest a weekly phone call, especially with the Chair.

  3. Term limits are a good idea for board officers and trustees.

  4. Engaging trustees is key to success; social activities (with drinks!) are great; animals are a bonus.

  5. Consider ad hoc committees or project-oriented task forces as an alternative to regular committees.

  6. Set expectations for new trustees in an orientation; consider using a "contract" to spell out details.

  7. 100% board participation in giving is standard; setting a fixed amount for contributions is not always expected but is recommended. 

  8. "Retiring" a board member can be sensitive; honest communication, expectations and participation are essential. Ideally, it's best to convince the board member to offer to resign

  9. Provide opportunities for board members to involve their families, especially their kids. 

  10. Inviting board members to bring a friend to an event or meeting is a successful way to introduce potential new trustees to your organization. 

Drop us a line here to learn more about how Zoo Advisors can assist your organization with board governance.