The other night I was at a committee meeting for a group I volunteer with. The group, in a round about way, does have an organization that it is affiliated with and a board member from that organization came to our meeting to give us an update on ways we could get involved with upcoming events. We are going to call him Al*.
Al came to the meeting about 30 minutes late for a 1 hour meeting. The committee members didn't know Al was coming, but our Chair may not have passed that information along. Al was hoping to get us all involved on an event that is this coming weekend and wanted us to come to their annual meeting. But, Al couldn't give us any information on either opportunity. Al didn't know the dates of the annual meeting, but he did know it was coming up!
Al continued talking, causing out meeting to run late. He was trying his hardest to provide all the information he knew. But, outside of the event this coming weekend, we weren't sure how we could be involved. We knew the Board wanted our aid but were confued with how they needed us.
So what can we learn from Al?
First, educate your Board members. Al had a captive audience of 20+ people including the Mayor of the city for a few minutes. He should have this information at his fingertips. I had my iPad with me and had to lookup the dates of the Annual Meeting for him. Al should have been ready to answer any questions we have, within reason, about that meeting; really sell it to us.
Second, that we, as nonprofit staff, need to teach our Board members what they should be doing in these situations. Imagine what all Al would have been able to accomplish if he would have had the right tools at our meeting? He could have inspired us to really lead our community to do more great things. Instead, we were all thinking about when the meeting was going to be dismissed. We were ready to leave and were not listening to AL. Board members need to be organization promoters and take advantage of every opportunity.
Third, Al needed to define his ask. He needed to be armed with specifics of what the organization needed from our group. Al needed to be prepared to share that with us and get us on board. Then, Al should have gotten a firm commitment from all of us.
In The End
Luckily, we have some really great volunteers and we are able to make the upcoming event. Based on the email chain, everyone has figured out everything else as well. Learn from "Al," and be prepared!