I take a straw poll when I work with boards and ask the more tenured members why they remain on the board. Every single time, the top one or two answers is because of the relationships they form while serving.
Think about that. If they are inspired to stay on your board because of the other people on it, I sure hope you’re intentionally providing opportunities for them to interact.
When was the last time your board members just hung out? Are you encouraging social time?
People who know, like and trust each other are more likely to work well together.
Here are 5 fun ways to facilitate board member interaction:
- Schedule a happy hour. It wasn’t long ago that a client tried it and lo and behold, folks who hadn’t been showing up to meetings recently showed up along with the regulars. They had intended to do a little program but set it aside when they saw how much fun everyone was having with no agenda! Let your volunteers chill and enjoy. They’ll love the chance to build relationships!
- Add a social half hour (or more) to the beginning or end of your meetings. Have snacks (or breakfast depending on the time of your meeting) and let them mingle. Again, you could try some activities that force interaction at first, especially if there are several new members. But be open to the idea that people might prefer to just hang out without any structure.
- Include the whole family. Go to a ball game, have a picnic in the park, do something where everyone can have fun. Significant others and kids sacrifice time away from your board members and when they can get to know other board members and their families, it makes for a type of community and expands the positive vibe. Families like to feel acknowledged too.
- Organize a year-end celebration hosted by a board member. Your board may go dark in the summer which makes May or June a great time to have an outdoor party to celebrate all you’ve accomplished since last fall! Provide some food, consider a 20-minute program that highlights key accomplishment, maybe present some awards to board members for exceptional service and just have a great time with plenty of opportunity for volunteers to mingle and get to know each other. Again, you could include a simple team building activity (include SOs) so they can strengthen their relationships.
- Make the most of a Board Retreat. A well-designed retreat will include important discussion about key issues, maybe a training topic and several opportunities for board members to interact. Consider seating assignments so you can be sure folks are mixed with people they don’t always come in contact with via committees or otherwise. Don’t have a working lunch – encourage social time then. Be sure there’s a chance for small group work and include a team building activity early in the session.
The stronger the relationships, the stronger the commitment!
If you need some help implementing any of these ideas, or others, give me a shout and let’s walk through it.