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Nsights: #20Things I Am Learning While Volunteering on a Board

board tableThis is my first #20Things list in keeping with my annual theme. Here are the #20Things I have learned or re-learned as a result of serving as a volunteer trustee on a board of directors!

1. Keep the mission front and center and reiterate it before the start of every meeting to keep people focused on our reason for being.

2. Discuss and define empowerment. What does that look like as we supervise other volunteers and as we guide our paid staff?
3. Constantly revisit what type of work is best suited for staff and what’s appropriate for volunteers to execute.
4. Say thank you. A lot. Volunteers aren’t paid to do this work. We need to remember that time is our greatest asset – do not jack around with others’ assets!
5. Sometimes the least exciting and meaningful volunteer work is the most necessary and the most important to organizational health. Can I get a “woop woop” for updating bylaws?
6. Update volunteer job descriptions on an annual basis so you don’t get caught updating ancient documents which are irrelevant.
7. Plan for a board development conversation, update, or technology tidbit at every meeting for continuous learning.
8. Do a reality check of time invest in committees and add that to volunteer job descriptions.
9. Use technology to your advantage! Zoom meetings, Doodle polls, and other resources are immensely helpful.
10. Ask how people like to communicate best – some like phone calls, others like video meetings, others, email.
11. Ask how documents are archived. What needs to be saved forever? What is the expiration date on other documents? Ask if there is a document retention policy. If not, create one now!
12. Intentionally build relationships and trust outside of the board room. That will make for better discussion and decisions.
13. Constantly talk about board succession planning. Who should we think about now to woo for the future? What skills and experiences are we missing in our team?
14. Keep the diversity and inclusion conversation alive. Diversity of thought, opinion, and perspective is needed for better conversation and results. Take a look around to see what similarities people may assume about the leadership team. Ask, “What perspectives and diversity are we missing?”
15. Match new board members with a Board Buddy to get a sense of culture, scheduling, expectations, key dates, etc.
16. Define success as a team. Get some consensus and understanding of what we need to do as a team.
17. Figure out how to keep the strategic plan alive and dynamic. It shouldn’t put a strangle-hold on creativity. It shouldn’t be used as a check list of activity. It also shouldn’t be so loose that programs and initiatives aren’t tethered to it.
18. Share articles on the industry, the competition, and trends affecting the people and organization.
19. Occasionally do some environment scanning to get your head out of the day-to-day details. Look around and notice what’s happening to other nonprofits, boards, and fundraising organizations.
20. Respect and value the experiences each person brings to the table. We have been brought together to think at the same time but NOT think alike.

Nsights: 2018 Theme

Each year, since 2005, I’ve chosen a theme for the year instead of a New Year’s Resolution. Some friends are choosing an “intention” for the year instead of resolutions as well.

Honestly, this year I wasn’t very inspired. So of course, I crowd sourced! Many thoughtful friends offered their ideas, suggestions, and their own themes. Twenty-eight suggestions later, I was a bit overwhelmed! One friend asked what my themes have been over the course of the last 12 years. I’m missing a few but here’s the run-down:journal2

Attitude of Gratitude
Stress Less
Know Better, Do Better
Right Mindfulness
Decrapify (fun name for decluttering!)
365 Fewer Things
Pinterest Purge
Simple Contentment

I really don’t like to recycle themes but I did notice that happiness and decluttering came back more than once over the years! But, it’s January 3rd and I need to choose!

This year I’m going to stretch my brain a bit. Recently, I read an article in which the author loved lists and wrote down her top 10 cities, meals, books, etc. For her, that was super easy, and quick. But, when pushed to write a list of 20, she had to really reflect and think beyond her easy list.

So, I’m choosing that for my theme. Each month I’m going to document #20Things. It might be 20 lessons, 20 things I’m grateful for, 20 friends I love but don’t see often, 20 ideas from a conference, 20 bad or good habits I have… you get the picture.

The 28 suggestions that friends and colleagues offered up will be put to use! And, I have a cool journal that a good friend gifted me so I have a specific place to capture those reflections.

Happy New Year! Akemashite omedetou!

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