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Staying Connected With Your Board of Directors
Episode 5725th April 2022 • Connected Philanthropy • Foundant Technologies
00:00:00 00:34:17

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In this episode, we discuss strategies and ideas to keep your Board connected and engaged with your important philanthropic work.

Topics:

  1. What are your policies and procedures for your Board of Directors and Committees?
  2. How do you recruit and bring on new members?
  3. How do you structure committees and what responsibilities come with that membership?
  4. Do you have any events or special things you do to engage your Board Members?

Connect with other members of the philanthropic community at Community.foundant.com

Transcripts

Logan Colgrove:

So without further ado.

Margaret Owen:

I'm going to jump into our first round of questions. So what are your main policies and procedures for your board of directors and committees? So things to get you started in thinking here. What does good governance mean to you and your organization? Any policies that you have found particularly helpful and why? And how well-defined and circulated are your policies and procedures?

N/A:

So they get kind of walked through the process and have their hands held for the first year of their term. And we have found that to be really useful. So, yeah, you know, that's that's great.

N/A:

We have been doing it for three years now. Okay. And we usually bring on between two to five new board members every year. Okay. So it also.

N/A:

Older board members engaged because when they're doing their mentoring, it helps keep them active as well.

Andrea Rosevell:

Hi. Everyone. I'm Andrea Rose. I'm with Coastal Community Foundation in South Carolina. I'm an executive assistant for the Finance and Operations Team So I really help with onboarding with new committee members. I come on board and we do it on a quarterly basis, like a board committee onboarding process. So I have the board chair and the CEO conduct pretty much an overview of the organization and, you know, their responsibilities and role.

Margaret Owen:

Do you know how many board members you generally bring on a year?

Andrea Rosevell:

Thank you.

:

Hi there. I'm with Dufferin Community Foundation in Ontario, Canada. And we're a pretty young foundation. We're only three years old, and we're taking a look right now on how we can build in an onboarding process. And also start to build a good culture around and within the board, because our organization has it started out with a few people who are close to one another who had a vision for the foundation, and then they invited other people they knew, who invited other people they knew.

Margaret Owen:

Absolutely. I think that's a great question, Michel. Thank you for asking it. Anybody have any thoughts for Michelle on positive practices that have worked for onboarding new board members or things that maybe haven't worked as well?

Michelle:

And that was open not just to those folks that are new to the Grants Committee, but also to our entire board to participate. So we did have probably three or four board members that participated in that that are not necessarily new but also, you know, may not have had exposure to that committee in the past. So giving them that opportunity to always kind of see what's going on in that space, I think has been helpful to help them understand the different avenues that they may not always be engaged with as part of their board role or their particular committee involvement.

Michelle:

I mean, I'd say we have probably, you know, two or three on average that would come in, even though they're not part of that. Our board overall is 20. So we have it's great. And, you know, some of those are newer, some of them are older. And some just like the idea of being able to, you know, refresh.

Nichole Barrow:

My name is Nichole Barrow Berens and I am with Greater Power Sheet Community Foundation in Reno, Iowa. And we have kind of back to your policies and procedures question. We when we're onboarding new board members, we have a board orientation and we used to give them a binder that had or connect or give them some sort of like electronic connection to all of our policies and procedures.

Nichole Barrow:

And sign.

Nichole Barrow:

And there are many other things. We go over other governance documents like the bylaws, and we do go over those during the board orientation. But I just think that they're probably not going to retain all the information and they usually put the binder on the shelf anyway.

Nichole Barrow:

It's been better for our organization to review or to as we're going along, updating policies and procedures.

Nichole Barrow:

Provide them with that point to the whole board. So yeah, I love that idea of us. You're kind of piecemeal reviewing policies and procedures having new board members engaged in the evaluation of those because it does kind of give them a bit more skin in the game for fully understanding what goes into creating that and be fully understanding kind of one at a time over a period of time.

Margaret Owen:

Andrea Rowsell

Andrea Rosevell:

Believe it was 8 hours, and I believe there is a consultant that helped with the strategic planning of that. And they did an overview of, I guess, the three to five year plan for the organization. So that was kind of a really great, I guess, activity where the board members were able to meet in person because a lot of our meetings since COVID have been all in.

Andrea Rosevell:

Some of them are cell phone call based, and you have to really walk them through. Some of them are pretty tech savvy and really get it so kind of varies, but we definitely, definitely employed the digital component and have started the board retreat.

:

I'm from Oil City, Pennsylvania, and I've been in my development position for about two and a half years now. This is the first year we're doing this, and we haven't done it yet. So I can't say that it's been great or it's been terrible, but we have hired an outside consultant to do two Zoom trainings for all of our board members.

:

And then the next module will be fun development at community foundations, and that's where we'll get into the different types of giving, the different types of funds, the different ways that they can take that information out into the community. Just really to get everybody on the same page because we have board members who they attend the meetings, but sometimes it doesn't really seem like they know what we're doing.

Margaret Owen:

But let's talk about how how you go and find new board members and find board members that are representative of your community who are good fits, passionate about your mission. How are you guys reaching into your communities to find these new folks?

Judy Strickler:

So we click through that. Then we just identify, for instance, do we have a good mix of ages to have a good mix of genders? Do we have a nice mix of occupations? And then we have a committee that meets to recruit and identify people in our community that can help us keep our very nice mix on our board and that works extremely well.

Margaret Owen:

That's great. Have you found I'm sure many people would be interested in that matrix, and have you found it at all a challenge to kind of fill that comprehensive view?

Judy Strickler:

And so by guessing their age, you know, and putting them in a matrix that feels creepy to be in a box right but it's it's nice to go out and recruit because when I first started, there were all older people in our community that were well established. And I feel like now we really do look like our community It's great.

Leah Schafer:

Community Trust Foundation. We're located in Cumberland, Maryland.

Leah Schafer:

That straddle two states. So we are Allegheny and Garrett Counties in Maryland and Mineral County in West Virginia. And each of.

Leah Schafer:

Counties have unique demographics, culture.

Leah Schafer:

Several years ago developed advisory councils and advisory council in each county made up of movers and shakers that meet twice.

Leah Schafer:

And they give us feedback on how we.

Leah Schafer:

Attract donors within those counties. And so these advisory councils become our pipeline to our board These individuals begin to learn the ins and outs of our organization and become.

Leah Schafer:

And then each year, our board evaluates our makeup and what skill set.

Leah Schafer:

Easier transition

Margaret Owen:

So it gets. A sense of progression and continuity. I think that's great.

Katie Freedman:

And we just have a way of making sure that we stay roughly at 50 55 board member, a non board member. And then like probably many of you in the committee foundation world, we also have grants committee members who are not also board members. And in that space, in our Grants Committee space, we have also used we are we are compensating board members because we want a wide range of voices and we recognize that the opportunity to include community members who are closest to the issues and, and work that we are trying to fund or solve for with our funding may also have other obligations that do not that require leaving a job in the middle

Katie Freedman:

table. So I just share that for something that we've implemented over the last just about a year or so at Park City Committee Foundation.

Melanie Garcia:

Because like the speaker in Nebraska mentioned, we're in rural Ohio and we don't have as much ethnic diversity especially when we're required to have a board member from a particular part of the county. So wondering if any of the other community foundations have those geographic restrictions on where their board members need to be from. And if so, how do you balance that with the diversity?

Melanie Garcia:

We are quite diverse, but it's only been in the last say, 30 years that we've got almost equality between the just visibility of the other groups as well as the.

Jane Schmidt:

So people obviously some were clicked. Yes. So it was just a matter of just asking the question and then following up and reaching out to them with a phone call and saying, hey, you click this on our exit survey. Would you be willing to move forward with being a committee member? And from just that easy question on an exit survey, we were able to recruit four new committee members.

Margaret Owen:

so that's great. Yeah, it really is. By finding the right audience and finding the right way to capture that information, and following up, I think that, you know, kind of feedback loop and feedback surveys are a great way to do that.

Laurie Lavallee:

I am Laurie Lavallee with the Community Foundation of Northwestern Alberta in Canada.

Laurie Lavallee:

That helps us review policies annually. And then we actually currently have an advancement committee, which is basically sort of in place to help us with development. And I can tell you that in our experience, this last committee has been floundering for years in that there's never really a clear purpose and clear direction. And there's lots of ideas generation, but really nothing ends up happening at the committee level.

Laurie Lavallee:

So that's certainly our challenge right now.

Melanie Garcia:

Melanie Garcia, Wayne County Community Foundation in Ohio. I am new to the position of executive director and to foundations in general, so I come from more of a corporate background. So I'm starting to come in and see things very differently And one of the committees that I inherited was a development committee, which is probably very similar to the Advancement Committee that the previous speaker mentioned.

Melanie Garcia:

So I kind of like the idea of breaking it into an advancement committee separate from a marketing and PR committee. And I feel like maybe too much got lumped into that committee and that the the responsibilities are we put too many responsibilities into one basket. So I'm interested to hear if other foundations have a specific marketing PR committee separate from advancement, because ours is all linked up into what they call development and it seems overburdened.

Melanie Garcia:

For instance, in our investment committee with our responsibilities, it varies This past year we went through a RFP process and we had to do interviewing. And so there was a lot of commitment in time for the committee members. This time around, But as we move forward, we won't be needing to meet that often, but it kind of varies.

Margaret Owen:

Yeah, I was just going to comment to breaking out.

Judy Strickler:

Foundation of Northeast Kansas and ahs our broken out also with an executive committee of Finance Investment Committee, a marketing committee and a strategic planning committee. So are we have that division with different committees also.

N/A:

I mean, we have a couple super engaged board members who it seems like they're on every committee. And I just wanted to know how these other organizations are managing getting committees comprised of different people. Yeah. So our board members are represent the third chairs of just about every, every committee. So we actually have seven different committees. And then comprising the rest of it is actually community members.

N/A:

And then it also gives us a pool for future board members.

Judy Strickler:

So we rarely meet unless there's a contract or like my salary review, my, you know, initial annual review. And then they take that, of course, to the full board. So that helped tremendously. We had more buy in when decisions were made at the board level. We used to have six committees and felt like it was way too many to coordinate and people were not attending.

Judy Strickler:

Right. If there are some creative ways, if there's different events, if there is kind of I mean, we talked about kind of the standard processes within a board meeting. Right. But especially thinking through the pandemic. You know, I stepped in my role in the middle of a pandemic. I have yet to meet in person with my board we're looking at potentially some board retreat coming up.

Jane Schmidt:

So for sure, I think you Chelsea and yeah.

Jane Schmidt:

And then the other thing also related to dinners is that I'm working with a few board members to host what they're what we're calling supper clubs. So we invite an interesting speaker to come to the supper club. You know, the the donor invites his friends or her friends to come. They have been, you know, a reason to go because of the, you know, sort of famous or interesting speaker.

Margaret Owen:

I think that's great. I love the community building aspects. After that, I'm always up for hearing and interesting and relevant speakers. So I think those are great ideas. Monica thank you for sharing. Just going to talk about the bowling volunteering aspect of volunteering together as a board, as a day of giving to bond with the board, also develop some personal connections and some fostering some trust with a designating a time to go volunteer and be out in the community that is near and dear to your foundation or to your organization.

Margaret Owen:

I think that's, that's a great. Keeping that front of mind is a great great approach and helps ground people in why you're having the conversation. I appreciate that. Thank you so much, Jane. Okay. Well, that seems like it's going to wrap up our conversation for today. Thank you so much for participating today. And we look forward to seeing you guys on our next on our coffee talk.