Archive for the 'Board Relations' Category

7 Tips on How to Think Like a Board Member

Today’s post is directed primarily at the people who are responsible for leading private school fundraisers. In a public school setting, fundraising events are usually funneled through the building principal, who is accountable to the superintendent, who, in turn, answers to the overarching school board. In most situations, your grassroots level efforts probably won’t rise all the way to the top.

However, in the case of a private school, the board of directors is very much involved in fundraising. In fact, some people would argue that the board’s most important function is that of ensuring the school stays well-funded. Remember, that in a non-profit organization, the board is the supreme authority.  The principal and all other employees are accountable to the board members. By the textbook definition, what the board says, goes. Therefore, it is wise to keep them happy and well-informed.

The goal of this article is to help a school employee or parent volunteer to think like a board member in order to move your plans forward with total buy-in and cooperation.

Think: Mission
The first thing I recommend doing before you make an initial presentation to the board about launching a fundraiser is to consider if your plans mesh with the school’s goals or mission. The last thing you want to have happen is that you rush in and make a grand proposal, only to have it immediately crushed because it flies in the face of everything the school holds dear.

For instance, I worked at a Christian elementary school that had a prohibition in its by-laws against any forms of gambling. That meant no raffles at our annual auction. Raffles can be a great source of income, and I’ve worked on raffles in the past. However, if I tried to change this policy at the Christian school, I would have been soundly rebuked and lost a lot of credibility with the board.

It is wise to remember that the board is charged with “protecting” the enduring mission of the school. In most cases, board members do not take this responsibility lightly. If you are new to the community or you have a novel idea, you should quietly ask a few people of influence if your idea fits the mission.

Think: Resistance
If your idea does fall within the parameters of the school’s character, the next step is to think about if you will meet any resistance to it. You would be surprised- even if your plans are as simple as a cookie dough sale, there might be someone on the board who objects to some element of what you’re proposing.

You can never be aware of every possible sticking point, so give yourself enough time before the board meeting and schedule individual conferences with each board member. This can be as simple as a phone call or an email. The point is to explain what you want to do and give each of them the opportunity to vent to you privately.

At this juncture, you can either try to solve the board member’s problem or decide to go in a different direction. Once you have assembled everyone’s opinions, you are then ready to introduce the topic at the board meeting. Assuming that you’ve been able to satisfactorily answer any concerns, you should have much smoother sailing now. Not lining up your support ahead of time could result in arguing, hurt feelings, and resentment. continue reading