November 2019
September 2020
Bryan Orander, President, Charitable Advisors
Will virtual board meetings become the new normal?
You may recall “way back” in March when the pandemic disrupted our routines. Restaurants, schools, theaters, and businesses closed, games postponed, stay-at-home orders were issued and most of us were sent home to work remotely.

You also may recall the awkwardness of that first board video call to ensure your board team connected with your ED/CEO to chart the course for the next few weeks. At the time, we all assumed video would only be needed for a couple meetings before the normal meeting routine resumed.

As Labor Day approaches, most board and committee meetings are still virtual. We are hearing from some clients that many board members prefer the convenience of video meetings despite so much Zoom fatigue. When board members can join a 90-minute board meeting from their homes or offices, their total time commitment is probably reduced by at least an hour after you factor in commute time and parking. When the meeting is over, they can jump right into their next thing. It feels like a win/win.

But what are we exchanging for this added convenience? When your board meeting is in a virtual setting where the boundaries of family, home and work are blurred, the organization will likely fail to get everyone’s best thinking or best efforts. I know I often use travel time as mental transition and prep time or reflection time after a meeting

I remain an advocate for in-person board meetings, as soon as safe, and that may involve putting in a little preparation to ensure your meetings are worth the travel time. In my training and writing, I describe four aspects that are key to effective board member engagement. During this sustained period of online meetings, think about how your organization can focus on one or more of these critical areas to help your board function better now and prepare to come out on the other side of this pandemic as a healthier governing body.

  • Purpose of the board. You might be surprised by how many of your board members are not sure why the board exists and the opportunities and obligations that come with the role. This could be a good time to squeeze in a 30- to 60-minute training call to refresh everyone about the board’s role beyond reviewing financials.  

  • Impact of your work. Many organizations have altered program delivery during the pandemic. Board members need to be well-equipped to share their excitement about your organization with a couple anecdotes and some statistics about the difference your organization makes. How can you bring them back into contact with your frontline programs? Online interviews with staff members or clients can be beneficial in keeping them abreast of your impact. Make plans to bring them face to face with your mission after the pandemic with on-site visits. 

  • Relationship building.  Developing relationships may be one of the toughest tasks to accomplish, especially for newer board members. If you already know someone, you probably can sustain a relationship over video for a certain period. But what is the quality of a relationship that only exists as part of a group on a video? Besides opening meetings with a check-in or an allotted time to share more personal news, consider creating smaller groups of board members who can safely connect in person with social distancing or online to get better acquainted. If you have board members with extra time or flexibility, consider having them call other board members as a way of staying connected.

  • Identifying and empowering unique contributions. Most boards establish minimum expectations for meeting attendance and personal contributions, but that does not fully engage a talented group of leaders. If you haven’t already, further leverage the unique talents and connections of your board members by having board leaders check in with each of them, individually, to develop a simple plan about how they want to better the organization and gain some skills or relationships in the process. This can be a great way to kick off a new year.

As a bonus, read this article about creating great online board meetings Can you try one new idea each board meeting? After hearing an idea on a recent podcast, I am considering playing background music at the beginning of my next on-line meeting as people are logging on. The speaker suggested choosing a song that connects to something you will be talking about.

To learn more, please contact Bryan Orander: [email protected] or 317-752-7153.

Bryan Orander, President                    
Nonprofit Pandemic Resource Page - Every nonprofit leader is dealing with the impacts of the pandemic. Charitable Advisors is continually reviewing available information, adding it to our resource page and sharing it in the Not-for-profit News.
Resource of the Month
Who knew there were so many nonprofit podcasts?

I have been a regular podcast listener for several years now. During that time, it has been interesting to see how the nonprofit sector has become increasingly represented in the selection of podcasts. Here are a few that I listen to frequently. If podcasts are new to you, look for the podcast app on your phone and search for any of these titles and authors to listen to a sample episode or subscribe. All are free.

  • First Day from The Fund Raising School – Weekly, short interviews with experts
  • Nonprofits are Messy – Joan Garry, former nonprofit executive and national consultant
  • The IBJ Podcast – Local news, one topic each week
  • Indiana Week in Review – WFYI Public Media panel
  • Inspired Nonprofit Leader – Mary Hiland, former nonprofit ED (California), interviews
  • Nonprofit Vision – Gregory Nielson, former nonprofit ED (Louisville); interviews
  • Nonprofit Leadership Podcast – Rob Harter, nonprofit leader; interviews

Who are you listening to? We’ll share your favorite podcasts in a future article. Please email [email protected] with your top picks.

We want to recognize board leaders
For most board members, board leadership roles come with a commitment and investment of time and resources to support a cause they care about. However, for the individual who steps up to serve as board president or chair, the role comes with the assumption of overall responsibility for the nonprofit and guiding the organization’s path forward.  

As we continue to share news of board leaders who have taken the helm, we encourage you to recognize and thank these individual for tackling the role, because as a community member you recognize the value of his or her investment to help keep the sector strong.  

If you want to announce your organization’s new board leader, please send name, position and a head shot HERE.

We are open to other ways we can support and recognize board leaders. Send us your thoughts or tell us a story about a board leader who has made a difference in your organization. Share your ideas with Bryan Orander, president.
Charles Chamness

President & CEO, National Association of Mutual Insurance Companies
Brad Coy

Assistant Fire Chief, City of Greenwood Fire Department

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