This is a question-and-answer series related to community college fundraising. This is article seven of the series.
Question: Do you have a strategy that you have used to improve your board relationships and communication? How has it increased your board participation, and ultimately your board giving?
Answer: We use several strategies to improve our board relationships and communication:
- In 2012, the foundation board voted to establish and use an online portal to streamline communications and RSVP for meetings. The portal has been an effective tool. All foundation board documents are in one place, which means board members no longer need to search through emails to find documents. They can simply log on to the portal. This one-stop philosophy has saved time for foundation board members and college employees.
- Each month, my team and I distribute a newsletter to foundation board members and members of the board of trustees. The newsletter includes information ranging from progress of fundraising goals to profiles of foundation board members.
- The foundation board has bimonthly meetings. They are held on weekdays. From 11 a.m. until 11:30 a.m., there is lunch and networking. The board meeting then begins at 11:30 a.m. and ends by 1 p.m. The 30-minute time period for lunch and networking is essential for foundation board members and college employees to spend quality time together.
- The foundation board has annual retreats. Most of them include a team-building exercise. One year, we played a game called HACCToids. The format was similar to Jeopardy. Two foundation board members facilitated the game, which required other foundation board members to provide answers to questions related to the college. The game was fun, interactive and quite a hit. As prizes, we gave HACC-themed items, including T-shirts, lanyards and mugs.
- The foundation board is divided into five fundraising teams – one fundraising team for each of the five college campuses. For the most part, this format has improved board relationships and communication, because it allows board members to get to know one another and work together in smaller settings.
Like all community colleges, we have effective and ineffective foundation board members. Those who are effective have embraced these enhancements.
We have 100-percent giving on the foundation board, because all of them are required to contribute at least $1,000 each year. If they do not contribute this amount, they are required to resign from the foundation board. This policy was in place before I was hired, and it is an excellent one that is taken seriously by most foundation board members.