Posts Tagged ‘membership’

The Most Important Committees for Non Profits

Monday, August 19th, 2013

Nominating/Membership and Marketing/Communications/PR Rule the Roost

By Joseph John

I recently conducted a workshop for a group of State Coordinators at the Sister Cities International Annual Conference.  During my two hour workshop, my topics always found their way back to a major premise I have always held for non profit organizations — yes, I did use the workshop as my soapbox. I have always believed that the two most important committees are 1) the Nominating/Membership Committee and 2) the Marketing/Communications/PR committee.

All forward-thinking non profit organizations find the best-of-the-best to sit on the board of directors, as well as finding the “critical mass” needed to build the membership base required to keep the organization vibrant, exciting, and growing. Plus, those forward-thinking non profit organizations require a committee that understands the mechanics and nuances of communication and marketing. Theoretically, if you’re communicating properly then you’re marketing the organization. The inverse of that statement is de facto. As your board members embark on fund raising campaigns, volunteer for special events and speak at public gatherings, they are communicating AND marketing.

For this article, however, allow me to focus on the “front door” approach for bringing quality people into your boardroom — and that begins with the nominating committee. That committee is charged with finding qualified people (and those with passion) to add to your board.

I’ve mentioned in other articles the necessity of turning on one of the most famous radio stations in the world: WIIFM (What’s In It For Me). Your nominating committee must take many of the questions that a potential board member should be asking him/herself and then craft those questions into screening questions for the prospective board member:

Question: Do you want recognition, or do you really want to serve and give back to the community? (egoism versus altruism).

If you can move past that question, then you must ask some even more direct and thought-provoking questions. Those additional questions include:

1) CAN you/WILL you grow as a board member and add value to the board?

2) CAN you/WILL you become a valuable asset to the community?

3) CAN you/WILL you learn to “play nice” and become a team player with a group of people who also are contributing their free time to serve?

4) CAN you/WILL you articulate your belief in the organization and be credible out in public?

Those questions can be rewritten so that your nominating committee may use them as part of the interviewing process for potential candidates. Of course, there are many, many more tough love and necessary questions you and your committee should ask.

Your non profit board needs to be comprised of people, of all ages—Boomers, Gen Xer’s and Yer’s — who are both donors and doers. The board member must be willing to donate financially to the organization while doing projects for the betterment of the organization. Remember that many boards don’t have many people to delegate to, so board members must be willing to roll up their sleeves and become doers.

Your nominating committee should create a checklist of personality traits that can be used in the interviewing process. Just some of those traits would include:

  • Accountability — it’s not a dirty word.
  • Accessibility — answer the phone, your emails, and be ready to serve.
  • Personal commitment — sign up, then be ready to serve.
  • People-oriented and outgoing
  • Leadership and Listening skills
  • Responsiveness and Reliability

And the list continues.

The nominating committee should always be searching for the ideal candidate — it’s not a temporary committee assignment — rather, it’s an active committee assignment. The committee must always comb the community to find the best people to become board members. And why? Simply because there will always be board member attrition. And that’s why the committee must be proactive in in order to build a strong bench. My manager used to say “recruit or die.” And that’s what can happen to a non profit board if the nominating committee isn’t out looking for candidates all the time. Believe me, by being proactive your organization will eliminate knee-jerk and “desperation mode” board member appointments.

I think you’ll agree that if you have a nominating committee that is always searching for talented, energetic people to sit on your board, you’ll have a non profit organization that will be defined as dynamic and capable of achieving lofty goals.

Non Profits: Membership or Fundraising?

Wednesday, September 7th, 2011

Fund raising is NOT the same as “Member Raising.”

It appears that non-profit organizations, and I’m referring to those from the non-service sector, have a tendency to combine fundraising and membership drives as one-and-the-same. Nothing could be further from the truth. Fund raising is NOT the same as “Member Raising”.

The purpose of fundraising is to generate money for the organization.

The purpose of a membership drive is to generate “bodies” — PEOPLE — people who will build the organization and sustain it. People who will provide the inertia for the organization so it can achieve its goals, objectives, and strive for the ultimate vision of the organization.

People can create fund drives, but fund drives don’t create people!

A membership drive must focus on the prospective member as a potential customer! What? A Customer? Yes, a customer. “Customer” and “Member” can be used

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interchangeably when describing the organizational relationship to people. How so?

Remember that a customer doesn’t need you — you need them. The customer, the potential member, asks: so what does your organization do? What’s in it for me? What are the benefits of becoming part of your organization? How do I sign up? What do I do after I become a member? What can I, the member, provide the organization and what will the organization provide me?

Before you embark on any membership drives, put on your marketing hat! Consider that membership drives will cost your organization money, people resources, and its reputation.

Think through some of the following questions and commit the answers to paper to assist you in creating a campaign:

1. As silly as it sounds, do you really know why you want members?

2. HOW MANY members are enough and how will you retain them?

3. What type of “drive” will be effective? Will it be ongoing or a special “one-time” event? What are the costs and what will be the process(es) used to initiate the campaign?

4. What is the perceived value of the membership drive for the new member?

5. What are the measures of success? How will you know you succeeded and received “value” from your efforts in the campaign.

If you think of a member begin a customer, you will create a healthier mindset for your organization on how to look for and retain that special person you want in your organization.

Oh, and one last thought: Membership drives need not be strictly for new members. What have you done recently for the dedicated, loyal, dues-paying members who have stood by your organization for so many years? What value package have they received…hopefully not a dull, ordinary non-personal letter from the president requesting membership dues and/or donations.

by Joseph R. John