March 9, 2018
Last week, we started a conversation on how to move from being a member to also being an ambassador for a nonprofit, particularly as a board member. Here are more easy-to-implement suggestions on how to make the most of that involvement.
Write About It
Never underestimate the power of the written word. Write a Letter to the Editor or an Op/Ed, if appropriate. Acknowledge the importance of the public’s support for the cause or group, thank the community, share information about a topic and clear up any misconceptions. Also consider blogging by approaching your organization about writing posts and sharing information on your social media channels. As long as the messaging fits with the nonprofit’s objectives and is approved by the organization, blogging can be a great way to promote its cause.
There’s no better way of “putting your money where your mouth is” than by taking on a volunteer leadership role. Start small, first by serving on a committee, and work up to committee chair, officer or even board chair. You may love it from the start! However, if that first committee or involvement is not a good fit, don’t give up – look for another role to try.
Keep up-to-date on your nonprofit’s activities. Situations constantly change so it is important to keep current on what the non-profit is doing, what it has accomplished, and how many people it has assisted lately. Not sure? Ask, or enroll in email updates to stay abreast of the latest news.
Accentuate the Positive
Always speak well of your organization to outsiders. Keep the drama to yourself or appropriate staff members within the nonprofit. Airing dirty laundry in public doesn’t reflect well on anyone, whether it’s personal or business-related, so avoid it.
LinkedIn is an excellent tool to promote your nonprofit and share information about your involvement with it. Professionals (and retirees) can maintain a LinkedIn profile, including, when appropriate, a professional bio on your firm’s website along with nonprofit activities. Like and follow favorite posts on Facebook, use the event tool to share and promote upcoming events, and invite new people to an event or fundraiser. Tag your nonprofit in posts, including photos, and educate friends on why you do what you do.
Bring a Friend
Speaking of friends, bring one to an event. Make it a friendly night out. I intentionally give tickets to people I know at other businesses who are likely to have an alignment with the nonprofit or support one of its fundraiser events. Similarly, ask friends to help you volunteer at an event or arrange a tour of the nonprofit’s site with friends. If it’s a location-based charity like a historic home or another notable facility, have your birthday, company anniversary or holiday party there. Getting great people in the door is what it’s all about.
Be a Recruiter
Help your organization recruit the board members it needs. Every nonprofit board needs a small group of highly committed and cohesive leaders. These people get the lion’s share of the work done. Have a chat with your staff liaison on how you can help bring those people to the table.
Stay on Brand
Don your organization’s gear. Whether it’s an oversized umbrella, a fleece jacket, or a favorite tote with the organization’s logo, put it to good use. These items are great conversation starters.
Last, but certainly not least, make meaningful introductions for the nonprofit. When I ask executive directors what they need most from their board members in fundraising, they inevitably say it’s a foot in the door. Have an open and honest conversation with the organization’s staff about how to best help. Sometimes, it’s less about a title and more a matter of connecting the organization with needed support, whether that means facilitating relationships or opening doors to bigger and better resources.
Remember, being a good rep often means prep. Here’s to doing more for the organizations that need us most!