NLN9: Board Engagement and Nonprofit Sustainability with Pam Darnall

pam darnall head shot-smOur gueston  this episode of the Nonprofit Leaders Network Podcast is Pamela Darnall, CEO with Family and Children’s Place, which she joined in 1994, becoming its CEO in January 2014. Pam helped lead the merger of 2 organizations in 2008 to create Family and Children’s Place and has held leadership positions with these organizations for more than 20 years. Family and Children’s Place works with children and their family members who have been exposed to, or are vulnerable to child abuse or family violence, serving between 5,000-6,000 people every year.

Here are some of the highlights from our discussion:

Reach Better Decisions by Providing Knowledge to Board Members

We can sometimes become a little challenged with our own board because we expect them to have the level of knowledge of our field that we have. We can forget that these are very busy people who have their own professions and skills but not, necessarily the same in-depth experience in our area. We take the route that it is our job to fully inform the board, not to assume knowledge, to help them understand the issues we are presenting and provide clear supporting information so that the board members can make very informed decisions.

Ways to Stay in Touch with Board Members

There are some very simple ways that can be done, for example, I try to have coffee or lunch with each board member individually at least once a year, as we have just over 30 board members that’s a lot, but it is important and makes a real difference.

I also try to keep in contact with them at board meetings, not just around the meeting table.

We have also started to work on getting the board members connected with each other so that they feel like a team, sharing why and how they are personally connected to the mission.

Board Members Calling Donors (Just to Say Thank You)

A really exciting thing happened when, at a recent board meeting, we gave each board member the name and phone number of two donors, and took 10 minutes out of the meeting for them to call those donors and say Thank You. Everyone did it and afterwards felt that it was a really great way for them to be better connected with those who support us. We are going to try and do that at each meeting, it really got them engaged and talking about what we do.

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