We’re in a pandemic. We can do very little socializing. Most of our interaction is taking place on phones or digitally.

How in the world can we expect our board members to be ambassadors and engage the community now?

It may not be as difficult as you think. We’ve seen creativity rule the day recently. You’ve been creative in other ways and you can do this too.

So let’s focus on what’s possible.

It’s nearly “year end” when you would typically be doing a fundraising push and maybe even holding some fall events. No doubt you would be counting on your board to be ambassadors out in the community during that time.

Let’s think about how you’re thinking about this:

  • Are you concerned they are too overwhelmed with their own pandemic issues to help?
  • Or that it’s not possible to engage with folks now due to social distancing requirements?

It’s time to get out of your own way, put those assumptions aside and stand up for your cause.

You still need to raise money and you still need to engage with the community so here are a few tips:

1. Share what your needs are and why (what are the results you need?).

  • For example, do you need them to share your social media posts to raise awareness about community issues?
  • Or email 10 friends about the impact you’re having even during the pandemic so they consider donating?
  • Or call an elected official and advocate for your cause in order to influence legislation?
  • Or host a virtual coffee chat with people they know around the country to learn more about your cause?
  • Or invite your colleagues to a virtual tour?
  • Or spread the word about a staff opening you have to help source it?
  • Or enroll virtual volunteers for a special project?

Here’s the thing: you still need your board to be ambassadors for you. The way they do it now might look different.

Be specific about what you need them to do and why you need them to do it – it’s not engagement unless some action is taken.

2. Now equip them for success. What do they need in order to be effective ambassadors?

  • Do they need digital materials that they can easily forward?
  • Do they need talking points or a template?
  • Do they need to know giving history of their contacts?
  • Do they need technical assistance?
  • Do they need to practice with you?

Your board members didn’t join the board just so they can attend meetings.

They’re passionate about your cause and your job is to facilitate their success.

3. Evaluate effectiveness. How will you measure success?

  • By the number of people who toured?
  • By the amount of money raised?
  • By the number of new donors?
  • By the response of the elected?
  • By how satisfied the new volunteers are?
  • By the conversion rate of attendees to donors?

Tie your activities back to your goals and be sure to celebrate with your board members!

Sure, you may need to adjust if you had some gaps, but let’s be sure you acknowledge progress at least as much as you focus on the deficits.

Bottom line – your board members want to advance your mission and be a part of your success. Tell them what you need, equip them well and get out of their way!