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Unlocking Untapped Board Potential

10 Strategies for Transforming Board Members into Advocates and Ambassadors

Board members are not just stewards of the organization, but can also be powerful advocates and ambassadors. By engaging the board of directors more effectively, nonprofit organizations can amplify their reach, influence, and impact. At Trepwise, we have worked with hundreds of nonprofits and foundations at various stages of growth, and we understand the importance of engaging board members effectively for the success and sustainability of the organization. While working with boards big and small, we’ve learned a few strategies along the way: 

  1. Inspire with a Shared Vision: First and foremost, nonprofit leaders should work to foster a shared vision. Board members need to be deeply connected to the organization’s mission and understand its impact. This alignment of values and vision is the foundation for advocacy and ambassadorship. Take time at a board retreat to connect each individual’s role back to the mission, vision, and values.
  1. Engage in Strategic Planning: Include board members in the strategic planning process. Their input can provide valuable insights and ensure alignment between the board’s goals and the organization’s mission. Gathering their insights during the stakeholder engagement process, keeping them informed through committee and board meetings, and leveraging their insights during planning retreats and working sessions are all ways to ensure the board voice is represented. 
  1. Understand & Leverage Their Expertise: Nonprofit board members often bring a wealth of skills and experience to the table. Make use of their expertise by involving them in committees, task forces, or advisory roles that match their strengths and interests. This will increase buy-in and ensure that board members feel they are contributing to the overall success of the organization. A quick board member survey or one-on-one conversations can help identify the strengths your board members possess.  
  1. Define Roles and Responsibilities: Clearly define the roles and responsibilities of board members as advocates and ambassadors, whether it be speaking opportunities, bringing in potential donors, or representing the organization at public events. Provide options and opportunities for Board members to step into these roles in the ways they feel most empowered.   
  1. Empower with Education: Provide your board members with comprehensive education about your organization, its programs, and the challenges it seeks to address. Equipped with this knowledge, they can speak confidently about your work to various stakeholders and donors. 
  1. Encourage Personal Connections to the Work: Provide opportunities for board members to volunteer at program events and get a first-hand look at the work. Understanding the work from a personal level will allow board members to be more passionate advocates.
  1. Foster Relationships with Each Other and Staff: Host social events for board members to interact with each other and staff. In-person interactions can help build a sense of camaraderie and teamwork – especially on a working board. 
  1. Create Networking Opportunities: Facilitate networking opportunities for board members to connect with like-minded individuals and organizations. Collaborative efforts can amplify the impact of their advocacy work.
  1. Recognize and Celebrate: Celebrate and recognize the advocacy efforts of your board members. Publicly acknowledge their contributions through newsletters, events, and social media. This not only motivates them but also sets an example for other board members.
  1. Evaluate and Iterate: Regularly assess the effectiveness of your board members’ advocacy efforts. Seek their feedback and be open to making adjustments to the strategy as needed.

By transforming board members into advocates and ambassadors, nonprofit organizations can significantly expand their reach and influence. The commitment, connections, and credibility of board members can open doors, attract supporters, and drive positive change. Advocacy and ambassadorship aren’t just roles; they are opportunities to advance the organization’s mission, making the board’s engagement all the more meaningful and impactful. To learn more about how Trepwise can support your staff and board become strong advocates for your mission and for the future, click here.