July 17, 2009

Quit complaining about your board members and other volunteers. Quit complaining that they don’t know what good governance is. Quit complaining that they don’t help with fundraising.

Staff is responsible for effectively enabling board members to do the right stuff. When you feel like complaining, look in the mirror first. Who’s responsible? Probably you.

What’s enabling? Giving people the power and the tools and the support to get the job done. What are the key functions of effective enablers? Here is a partial list:

1. Transmit the organization’s volunteers.

2. Engage volunteers in the meaning of your organization.

3. Respect and use the skills, expertise, experience, and insights of volunteers.

4. Provide direction and resources, remove barriers, and help develop skills.

5. Articulate expectations and clarify roles and relationships.

6. Communicate (which includes helping people transform information into knowledge and learning).

7. Encourage people to question organizational assumptions and ask strategic questions.

8. Ensure quality decision-making.

9. Anticipate conflicts and facilitate resolution.

Read the whole list of enabling functions in the Free Library of my website. Read Chapter 5 of my book Strategic Fund Development to learn the details. You’ll find what it takes – your skills and attitude – to be an effective enabler.

You want volunteers to do the right stuff? Then you have to do the right stuff first.

About Simone Joyaux

A consultant specializing in fund development, strategic planning, and board development, Simone P. Joyaux works with all types and sizes of nonprofits, speaks at conferences worldwide, and teaches in the graduate program for philanthropy at Saint Mary’s University, MN. Her books, Keep Your Donors and Strategic Fund Development, are standards in the field.

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