School’s out for summer, right?! Think again…
I’ve heard far too many board members remark that our work will pick up again in August or September because either, a) “our board does not meet in the summer,” b) “no one is around over the summer,” c) “I can’t get anyone’s attention during the summer,” or d) all of the above. Really? I have a hard time believing that most board members are away all summer. If they are, you either live in a retirement community or one that is off-the-charts wealthy (if so, good for you) – but most of us have to work for a living and are therefore in town for a good chunk of the summer, whether we like it or not!
So…let’s take advantage of that fact. In the past, your board may have taken a summer meeting or working hiatus, but I ask you to consider a different plan this year. Summer is the PERFECT time for boards to take time to think, plan, meet and work as the team they strive to be. Why? What should they be doing?
Here’s my thoughts. And don’t forget to opt in for this week’s freebie: A Step-By-Step Guide to Managing Summer Board Development. It’s one you won’t want to miss.
1) COMMITTEE CHARTERS, GOALS & WORK PLANS: You should now be completing your standing committee assignments for the next fiscal year (many of us are working on a June 30 fiscal year end) and this means you have assigned committee chairmanships. Your standing committee chairs should be hard at work recruiting committee members (board and non-board members), updating their committee charters, and developing annual goals and work plans that outline the steps they will take and strategies they will employ to meet those goals. These goals and work plans should be presented to the board at the first meeting of the year. It’s hard to accomplish any of this without summer meetings – therefore this is critical planning time.
2) BOARD RETREAT: Speaking of summer meetings, the board retreat is perhaps the most important board meeting of the year. The retreat presents an opportunity for the board to engage in team building and vision exercises, strategic planning or strategic plan updates (see below), committee work (see above) and self-assessment (see below). Mostly importantly, it allows the board to set goals, milestones and benchmarks for the coming year and reflect on the year in review. Next week’s blog will be all about the board retreat, so stay tuned for more on this topic.
3) STRATEGIC PLANNING: Whether your board is embarking upon a new 3 – 5 year strategic plan, updating a current plan or examining progress to date on a plan, summer is an excellent time to begin your planning process, review longer term goals in each plan area and assess progress toward goals. While you work, try holding a cool drink in your hand while sitting outside around a patio table – the process is infinitely more pleasant! Need assistance getting your plan off the ground? Giving Tree can help!
4) BOARD SELF-ASSESSMENT: Whether you take time during your board retreat to do a self-assessment or ask board members to do this individually offline, summer is a great time to reflect on the year from both the team and individual perspective. The board must set both individual and group goals annually in order to be able to measure itself against them at the end of the year, so now I’m back to the board retreat discussion… Stay tuned for a sample board self-assessment template in the weeks ahead.
5) VOLUNTEER RECRUITMENT, ONBOARDING & MENTORSHIP: When I asked a development director this week if she might be able to recruit a new gala chair by July 15, she told me she cannot work on this task until the fall, at which point it is too late to make a difference in her planning. I reminded her that the months of June, July and August are not off limits for volunteer recruitment! In fact, they are great months for casual meetings with lay leaders who have the potential to more deeply engage with your nonprofit. And so now is the perfect time to create your volunteer pipeline document, take volunteers and donors to coffee, and on-board and assign mentors to new board members (more to come on this topic soon!).
Summer allows us the opportunity to do all of this and more while the sun is shining, people are generally more relaxed and happy, and often people have more time while their children are away at camp or on trips abroad. So take advantage of the Vitamin D and plan your next committee or board gathering outdoors – and don’t waste the summer waiting for board members to return to reality.
Looking for some concrete tasks that can help you get started? Check out this week’s freebie: A Step-By-Step Guide to Managing Summer Board Development. You won’t want to miss this tool – it’s jam-packed with actionable tasks that will jump start your summer planning. Click here to get the freebie.