Wednesday, March 4, 2020

LESSON 9 – Just Do One Thing a Month

Welcome to More Lessons From the Nonprofit Boardroom Blog, a 40-week journey through the new book, More Lessons From the Nonprofit Boardroom, by Dan Busby and John Pearson. Each Wednesday, we're featuring a guest writer’s favorite snippet from the week's topic. Devlin Donaldson is our guest blogger this week for the first of four lessons in "Part 3: Nominees for the Board Member Hall of Fame.”

LESSON 9 OF 40 - Just Do One Thing a Month
Make a specific ask of each board member each month.

THE BIG IDEA FROM THE BOOK: In Lesson 9, the authors identify an emotion felt by many board members—not feeling that they are involved enough or doing enough for the organization between board meetings. 

MY FAVORITE INSIGHTS from Lesson 9, pages 56-59: 
• I just wish there was more clarity about the expectations of my role on the board in between meetings.”
• “Every month he contacts the institution’s board of directors and reminds them: ‘Just do one thing a month for our university!’”
• “This innovative leader provided the board members with a grocery list of ways they can inspire, influence, and impact other people for the university’s important mission.” 

It was Aristotle who said, “Nature abhors a vacuum.” It would stand to reason that if we assume board members know what to do to help and support the CEO, we could be creating a natural vacuum. Given the various hats that board members can wear (Governance, Volunteer, Participant) it is asking a lot to put the onus on them to determine the best ways to be involved without crossing boundaries.  

If a CEO allows this vacuum to occur, rest assured one of two things will fill that space. 1) The space will be filled with frustrated board members who begin to lose enthusiasm for their board service. Or, 2) a highly motivated board member will begin to fill that vacuum with activities that will create confusion (for example) between the Governance hat and the Volunteer hat. In either case, you have just created more unnecessary challenges within your board.

The best thing about this strategy is that it is a twofer! First, by enacting this strategy, you will avoid conflicts with board members who, without guidance, may do whatever they think best. And secondly, you will have unleashed your board members to experience much greater satisfaction and PRODUCTIVITY! 


DEVLIN DONALDSON is the CEO of VisionTrust International in Colorado Springs where he lives with his wife and daughter. Devlin has a deep history in the child sponsorship world, having spent 18 years with Compassion International and 15 years consulting with nearly every major sponsorship agency in the country. He and his wife attend Holy Trinity Anglican Church. Devlin has authored two books including, Pinocchio Nation: Truth Telling in a Culture of Lies.

• Have a discussion with your board chair and develop a plan that includes how to introduce the “Just Do One Thing a Month” concept to your board members.
• Develop a list of meaningful and productive activities that you can discuss with each board member—with choices, so each person is operating in their strengths.
• Visit the ECFA Knowledge Center and read and share the short chapter, Lesson 9, “Just Do One Thing a Month.”

March 11, 2020, watch for the commentary by Woody McLendon on Lesson 10, “A Unanimous Choice for the Board Member Hall of Fame. She limits her service to one board at a time.”

BULK ORDERS: Click here. For more resources and to download the book's Table of Contents, visit the book's webpage.

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