December 4, 2009

I was examining my own performance as a board member. I was thinking about all the board members I’ve known on the various boards for so many years. I asked myself: What do I expect of me, Simone? What do I expect of you as a fellow board member?

I expect you and me to willingly inconvenience ourselves for the organization and for the board. Too bad that it’s your birthday, go to the board meeting anyway. Too bad it’s your life partner’s birthday or your anniversary. Tough luck. Go to the board meeting. I expect you and me to schedule vacations to accommodate board meetings whenever possible. Same with business trips as possible. Go to the Saturday activity even though I’d rather read a novel. Help plan the special event even though I hate doing that.

I expect you and me to do stuff we don’t like for the organization and for the board – and wow that may be uncomfortable and it sure is inconvenient. You and me…ask tough questions and confront each other, graciously, but candidly.

Embrace inconvenience. It’s a tough life. Don’t serve as a board member if you’re looking for convenience and comfort.

And here’s another angle of inconvenience…last person standing. I heard a board member raise that concept. She articulated her expectations of fellow board members by asking: “Who will be the last person standing for this organization?” And she was hoping that it was more than one board member. She expected that more than one board member would do everything possible, would be there till the bitter end and beyond, would inconvenience themselves because they believed so strongly.

To what degree do you inconvenience yourself? Will you be one of the last people standing, even the very last one? If not, why are you on that board? Why are you on any board?

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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