It’s your job. If you’re an officer of the board, the ED/CEO or another volunteer in a leadership role, it’s your job.

Ask any board member. They want to do a good job. They want to advance your important mission work. And they want you to hold them accountable.  They didn’t join your board to do nothing.



It takes 3 things to do this well:

(Assumption: the assignment has been made clear and they agreed to it!)

1. Support
2. Encouragement
3. Active Follow up


There are nuances to doing this successfully.  You have board members with different lengths of service and experience – veterans and rookies.  You have all types of personalities and folks who are motivated by different things.   You’ll be able to hold them accountable when you focus on the individual.  It’s a great way to further build relationships also!

And it matters because frankly, if you don’t hold your volunteers accountable, not only are you jeopardizing your effectiveness and impact, you’re  ignoring their leadership potential.  That feels disrespectful to me.

When you need board members to make calls, raise money, attend meetings, influence key officials, take on a project or participate in a committee – whatever you need from them, use this acronym to get the best results every time. SEA. Support – Encourage – Active Follow Up

Let’s take a closer look.

Support: this could be in the form of training such as an advocacy workshop. Or perhaps sharing tools and resources that will make their “work” more efficient. Or even an introduction to someone who has done it before, or people who will work alongside them. And be sure to ask them what they need to be successful; don’t just assume they feel confident about it.

Encourage: At times, we all need to hear we’re on the right track. That what we’re doing matters. Think about how you can connect your board members to the big picture – the WHY of the work.   Be specific.  Let them know how much you appreciate their effort, time, expertise, etc as they advance your mission. Help them understand you can’t do this without them – it’s a team effort.

Active Follow Up: for some reason this idea makes some folks squirm. And I get it. I used to be reluctant to ask board members to do what they promised. Until I really needed to and learned how much they appreciated the attention and respect I gave their work.

So let’s think about it for a minute. Think about when you’ve been assigned a project or task. You’re plugging along and are making good progress and no one seems to notice. Then it’s complete and you report back. And no one seems to really care. Hmmmmm.

You’re relying on your board members to help advance your cause. So follow up! Holding people accountable is primarily just that – follow up. Volunteers are motivated by success – they want to do a good job so let’s help them do so. Check in to see how they’re feeling about their progress; ask if they need anything else that will help facilitate their success; remind them of deadlines and confirm that they feel they’re on track. They will actually appreciate it!

And finally, you want to celebrate with them once the project is complete! Even if it’s not perfect, acknowledge the effort and outline next steps. SEA.

Take a minute to reflect on the shared leadership model that nonprofits have. Staff and volunteers must work together to lead the organization. The community is counting on you to get this right. Talk about how you want to communicate up front and acknowledge if you’d like some support from your team members.

And then, if you need some laser-focused coaching regarding a specific situation, schedule a complimentary coaching call with me and let’s figure this out. You can’t afford to allow your mission impact to flounder. SEA.