Not too long ago I was talking with a nonprofit fundraiser who was telling me about his board. I’ve been involved in the philanthropic sector for over a decade, and I’ve spoken to many executive directors and fundraisers. Often, when there’s discussion about a group’s board of directors, there’s a tone of exasperation or frustration.

My call with this fundraiser was different, and after a few minutes, I asked a question.

“Jay, why do you think your board is so valuable in your organization? What do you think you’re doing right? 

His answer involved elements of good nonprofit board work, but then he added something a little different which caught my attention.

He said that at the beginning of every board meeting, the group is presented with a quote. They then take a few moments, as an icebreaker to discuss the meaning behind the quote as it may relate to their board work.

Jay said that he believes that the consistent reminder of the privilege they’re given to serve in their community is an essential element of his engaged and productive board.

I thought it was an excellent idea to begin every meeting with this kind of board mindfulness. Board members are privileged to serve and the fact that Jay’s organization reminds them of this at every meeting––in a subtle way––is a great approach to help nonprofit leaders to remember their role in the community and within the organization.

I asked Jay to send along some of the quotes he’s used in the past, which he did and then I looked up others, which you can find below.

    1. “Lots of times we are afraid to ask our board members to do too much because we’re afraid they will be scared off. I have long felt that what really turns them off is a lack of meaningful” – Linda Linda Lysakowski, ACFRE
    2. “Governance is not management.” – Kenneth Dayton 
    3. “Donors don’t give to institutions. They invest in ideas and people in whom they believe.” – G.T. Smith 
    4. “Fundraising is not an event; it is a process.” – Edgar D. Powell 
    5. “Give, but give until it hurts.” ― Mother Teresa 
    6. “Vision without action is a daydream. Action without vision is a nightmare.” – Japanese proverb
    7. “There are two ‘i’s’ in Fundraising – they should stand for inspiration and innovation, not imitation and irritation.” – Ken Burnett
    8. “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, ‘What are you doing for others?” ― Martin Luther King Jr. 
    9. “Move toward your fears, hire your weakness.”- Richard Male 
    10. “Treat me like a partner in caring…not a walking wallet.” – Unknown Author
    11. “I’ve always respected those who tried to change the world for the better, rather than just complain about it.” – Michael Bloomberg 
    12. “Fundraising is both an art and a science. The art of fundraising is equal parts expressing the need, sharing your passion to help, and courageously asking others to support you on your journey. Keep it personal and simple. Maybe even a little creative. Whichever approach you choose, make it uniquely yours. The science of fundraising is all about applying years of research to building strong relationships and helping donors see how their donations are making a positive impact. You can increase your chances of success by combining the art and science of fundraising.” – Unknown Author 
    13. “Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.” ― Dr. Seuss
    14. “It’s not just about being able to write a check. It’s being able to touch somebody’s life.” – Oprah Winfrey 
    15. “People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but they will never forget how you made them feel.” – Maya Angelou

Take a moment at each meeting to remind everyone why they’re doing what they’re doing. I always tell my team, “stay in your lane.” What I mean by that is to keep focus. By helping board members realize and remember that they have a privileged role within your organization, you’re also reminding them that they have a special responsibility to the community. And, there’s no better way to do that effortlessly than by reminding them with great quotes and inspiration.

Author of “Not Your Father’s Charity: Grip & Rip Leadership for Social Impact” (Free Digital Download)

© 2017 Wayne Elsey and Not Your Father’s Charity. All Rights Reserved.