I was recently asked to speak at a young professionals’ group and give insight about serving on nonprofit boards. While we hope that everyone who gets involved with a charity has some type of personal passion in the cause, there is also nothing wrong with using the opportunity to get business from it. Let me be clear, getting business cannot be the only reason why you join a board – people will see right through it. However, if you “do good,” we believe that you will “do well.” So if you truly want to get business from your nonprofit board members, here’s what you should do.
Shocking, I know. When I worked in the nonprofit world, I would witness how a handful of board members would never attended a meeting. What I stressed to this group was that sometimes, the only interaction people may have with you is either serving on a board of directors, an auxiliary group or a committee. You many never run into them in your line of business (yet). But so many individuals miss meetings and it reflects poorly on them. Why would I do business with the person who never shows up?
The excuse, “I’m so busy at work,” no longer flies. Newsflash: everyone is super busy and yet there are those who continue to fulfill the responsibilities they agreed to do. Treat it as a client meeting and don’t miss it. By missing it, you may be losing out on business opportunity.
Now you’re coming to the meetings regularly and like most boards, you’re probably asked to do something – whether that’s opening doors, planning an event, or securing sponsorship. Do what you say you’re going to do. It’s a simple concept, but I can’t begin to tell you how many times in my career I’ve witnessed how board/committee members never follow through. An entire year will go by and that individual hasn’t done squat. Guess what? When you don’t follow through, people will assume you don’t follow through at your real job. It’s human nature to think this way.
Get to Know Other Board Members:
By attending meetings and following through, you’re now the rock star on the board. Take advantage of this. One of the perks of being on a board is the people around the table. You can assume that if they were asked to serve, they are pretty influential themselves.
Grab coffee, lunch or drinks and learn about them and what they do. Ask them how you can help them? While business may not come from this initial meeting, it will leave such an impression that when they need the type of services/products you offer, you’ll be top of mind. Even better is when someone asks them for a recommendation for a product or service and they recommend you!
As you can see, this isn’t rocket science, but many people don’t maximize their opportunity on nonprofit boards and miss out on business. I’ve seen first-hand how some people do it masterfully and gain so much business from being involved in the community. Consider it.
What was the impression you had of people who never showed up or followed through on their board commitments?