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3 Creative Ideas for Engaging Association Board Members

Lori Halley  02 April 2014  0 comments

This is a guest post by Lamees Abourahma of Webbright Services.

Being on the board of a professional association is a great privilege – but also a great commitment. Board members of associations volunteer their time for the growth and success of their organization more than any other member. Without a monetary compensation and with a major time/effort investment, how do you engage and motivate board members to do all of the work required to run an effective and successful organization? Here are three creative and proven ideas that other organizations have implemented successfully. 

Seek the Best Talent for Your Board

Greg Laney, president of the Atlanta Area Compensation Association, said that for his association, board members are nominated for certain positions. However, these board members aren't nominated based on a popularity contest. Current board members, and other members in the association, take the time to determine who would be a good fit for the board for the upcoming year.

"Our board has about 12 people... and then we have directors at large that handle specific projects. Over time, our current board and our current members get to meet everyone through the networking opportunities," Laney said. "We learn about the experiences and skill sets of our members. They actively recruit throughout the year and encourage members to sign up for board duties. Through that, we then nominate board members for the next year."

Just Ask

Christina Green, president of the Midwest Association of Translators and Interpreters, said that one of her secrets to get board members engaged and volunteering is to ask. Members are supposed to volunteer for when they sign up to become a member, but Green and her board take the time to reach out to those who don't initiative the effort.

"If people don't volunteer voluntarily, then we actually reach out to them and ask them. 'Would you be willing to participate in this initiative?'", she said. "We explain what it is for, and we have found that it's very important to be very clear. This is going to be for this reason, we estimate it's going to take this much of your time, and this is what we expect of you. 'Can you do it?"

Green also said that she gives her association's board members the tools they need to "run their own show" and to pursue the projects they wish to pursue. MATI has a young board, with members who graduated from college a few years ago. Green says these are people who want to be engaged and want to learn more about the industry. She keeps her board engaged by giving them a chance to learn and to enable them to replace the seasoned, outgoing members when the time comes.

Turn Crucial Association Activities into a Game

Andrew Campbell, program director of the Columbus Metropolitan Club, said that their board of directors is actually divided into four teams, where the teams compete against each other to earn points for various activities, such as landing a sponsor, attending a forum, or bringing in a new member. Campbell said that this idea came from the organization's president, Jane Scott, and wasn't all that well-received by the first board of directors. However, the board has adjusted and takes the work and the points seriously.

"They compete over the course of the year, and Jane tabulates and keeps track of their scores so they get a board report on a monthly basis," Campbell said. "I can't tell you when we've had a more active, and engaged, and energetic board since we've done this over the past 18 months or so."

Even with the energy and engagement, Campbell said they are very careful about who gets recruited and nominated to the 20-member board. Since the Columbus Metropolitan Club does a variety of events over a variety of topics, the organization looks for those who are involved in the community and who have a lot of connections within the community. The organization also makes sure that each topic area is covered by a member of the board, so that there is at least one person from business, education, health care etc. who has connections or is considered to have expertise.

What creative ideas do you have to keep your association's board members engaged? Any of the ideas listed above that you'd like to try? Let us know in the comments!


Lamees Abourahma  is president of Webbright Services LLC. Webbright is a quality, high performance provider specializing in membership website design and development on the Wild Apricot platform. For Webbright, working with clients is more than building websites, blogs, or social networks. It’s about building relationships with people who are passionate about their mission, and helping them realize their vision. 

Image source: "Shared thought" - courtesy of BigStockPhoto.com

Lori Halley [Engaging Apricot] Lori Halley [Engaging Apricot]

Posted by Lori Halley [Engaging Apricot]

Published Wednesday, 02 April 2014 at 8:30 AM
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