Nonprofit Nation with Julia Campbell

How to Build a Healthy and Diverse Board with Christal Cherry

August 23, 2023 Julia Campbell Episode 103
Nonprofit Nation with Julia Campbell
How to Build a Healthy and Diverse Board with Christal Cherry
Show Notes Transcript

Strong organizations need passionate, competent, well-trained leaders. In this episode, we talk to The Board Pro, Christal Cherry, about her essential Steps to Build a More Engaged Board, plus other helpful tools like Board Maps and onboarding.

About Christal Cherry:

Christal M. Cherry is a nationally recognized  nonprofit executive and professionally trained fundraiser.  With over 20 years in the nonprofit sector, she has supported higher education institutions, human services organizations and faith based missions.  Her career portfolio, as a full time professional and consultant includes American University, the United Negro College Fund, Spelman College, Nicholas House, the Interdenominational Theological Center, Florida A & M University,  Action Ministries and the GA Center for Nonprofits.

The Board Pro coaches, guides, trains, and transforms their leaders to optimize their board experience by taking action and embracing their power to change their communities and the world.

Connect with Christal Cherry


About Julia Campbell, the host of the Nonprofit Nation podcast:

Named as a top thought leader by Forbes and BizTech Magazine, Julia Campbell (she/hers) is an author, coach, and speaker on a mission to make the digital world a better place.

She wrote her book, Storytelling in the Digital Age: A Guide for Nonprofits, as a roadmap for social change agents who want to build movements using engaging digital storytelling techniques. Her second book, How to Build and Mobilize a Social Media Community for Your Nonprofit, was published in 2020 as a call-to-arms for mission-driven organizations to use the power of social media to build movements.  

Take my free masterclass: 3 Must-Have Elements of Social Media Content that Converts

Hey, real quick. I've developed a brand new free resource just for you. It's called the nonprofit social media Content Planner. This brand new planner will help you plan, develop, and manage a year's worth of useful and usable written or other forms of content that your audience will love. You can just text the word planner to 3377 or go to Grab your free copy today. All right, on to the episode. Hello and welcome to Nonprofit Nation. I'm your host, Julia Campbell, and I'm going to sit down with nonprofit, industry. Experts, fundraisers, marketers, and everyone in between. To get real and discuss what it takes to build that movement that you've been dreaming of. I created the Nonprofit Nation podcast to share practical wisdom and strategies to help you confidently find your voice, definitively grow your audience, and effectively build your movement. If you're a nonprofit newbie or an experienced professional who's looking to get more visibility, reach more people, and create even more impact, then you're in the right place. Let's get started. Hi, everyone. Welcome back to the nonprofit Nation Podcast. This is your host, Julia Campbell, and I have an old friend here, one of the OG guests that I had on the podcast. We were thinking maybe a year ago and I should probably go back and look. But the content is even more relevant today than it was the last time because it's certainly the topic on everybody's mind how to build a healthy and diverse and more importantly, even an engaged board. Because strong organizations need passionate, competent, well trained leaders. So in this episode, I'm talking to the board pro, Crystal Cherry. Crystal m cherry. That's right. A nationally recognized nonprofit executive and professionally trained fundraiser with over 20 years in the nonprofit sector. She supported higher education institutions, human services organizations, and faith based missions. And her career portfolio as a full time professional and consultant includes American University, the United Negro College Fund, Spelman College, Nicholas House, the Interdenominational Theological Center, Florida A. M university, Action Ministries, and the Georgia Center for Nonprofits. As the board pro, Crystal coaches, guides, trains, and transforms leaders to optimize their board experience by taking action and embracing their power to change their communities and the world. So what an amazing mission statement. Crystal, welcome. Hey, Julia. Hi. How are you? Good. It's so good to see you. I'm so happy to have you back on the you know, we don't need to go too much into your nonprofit journey. I think most people are probably familiar with you, but if you want to talk about how you maybe started in board development, where you started and a little bit about what you're doing right now. Yeah. So, as you mentioned, I spent the bulk of my career being a frontline fundraiser, working for human services organizations, higher ed institutions, seminaries, and doing everything you could think about in fundraising, from major gifts to annual giving, special events, alumni affairs, corporate relations. I mean, I've worked with every stakeholder group you could think of. So I would say I was probably a generalist in fundraising. Major gifts was my niche. I loved building relationships with individuals that would lead to meaningful donations to the nonprofit I was serving at the time. And so that's kind of what I did for the bulk of my career. But 23 years in, I got burnt out and decided right before COVID happened that I wanted to do something different. And of course, I didn't know, none of us knew what was coming. But I decided that I wanted to transition out of fundraising and I was trying to think where I could land and still use all of the skills that I had acquired over the years. And I started thinking about the board meetings that I had sat in as the fundraiser, right. Watching board members, listening to them, seeing that they were not engaged, they didn't know what questions to ask. Some of them were bored and asleep. Yeah, oh, I've been to those meetings. And I just kept thinking, I can use everything that I've learned as a fundraiser and take that into the boardroom. All the passion that I have about building relationships, telling the story, advocating for mission, right. Those are the things that I had to do as a fundraiser. Well, board members have to do those things as well. So I decided I can transfer my skills from fundraising into board work. And so I hung up my shingle and here we are three years later. And so it has been a ride. COVID and that whole time was very busy, but it still makes my heart throb to work with boards. So what do you see as the role of the board? I have some very strong opinions about what I see as the role of the board of directors, and I tend to force that a little bit on my clients. But what do you see as the role of the board of directors? Yeah, so they're the governing body, but when I first started doing this work, my motto was, and still is that who's at the top matters, right? So I had in my mind this chart where the board was at the top, led by the board chair and then all of his executive committee, and then down to the board committees and then down to the executive director. And I still do believe that to some extent, but I do believe that the board has to work in tandem with the organization. The board cannot work autonomously. They have to work. So I almost see it as now more centralized, where the board is here and the staff are here, because one cannot do without the other. And so certainly if you have a board who's doing their own thing over here and staff who are doing their thing over here, and the two never meet, you're going to have a problem. So I do see the board as partnering with the executive director and the staff to help lead the organization. They still have to make decisions. They still need to approve the budget. But when it comes to the work of the organization, I do think they need to be working in tandem. So you can't have your staff working on dei over here and your board working on dei over here, or working on fundraising over here and fundraising over there, and they're never talking and have the threshold of success that you're looking for. So I do think it's more of a partnership than a hierarchy, as I thought in the beginning. So I agree. I think boards need to take more of a leadership role than I think they do. So building a thriving board is incredibly challenging, whether you're just starting out or whether you've been managing a board or working with a board for years. So what do you see as absolutely essential for a highly functioning board of directors? Yes, I think nonprofits need to do a better job of assessing upfront what they need. Right. And so really, looking at mission, looking at that strategic plan, take the strategic plan off the shelf or out of the drawer right. And look at the goals that you had set aside for your organization and look at the path that it takes to get to those goals and get those goals accomplished. And how can your board assist you in getting there? And so what kinds of skill sets do you need to reach that goal of increasing the number of programs you have or raising$500,000 this year, or planning four or five successful events? Like all the things that you have in your strategic plan, how can the board play a role in making those things happen? What skill sets does it take in order for you to make that happen? Who is your community? Who are you serving? Are you serving women who are pregnant? Are you serving children who are in after school programs? Are you working for animal welfare? And once you do all of that and trying to figure out and that requires some strategic visioning and that strategic plan is going to be a guide, then you can determine, who do I need on this board to help me make all those things happen? And often I think we fail there because back in the day, we just asked Bob because he had like, oh. He'S the president of the bank. Obviously he's going to be on our board without really talking to Bob about all the things that are in that strategic plan. What skill sets, what power plays can Bob bring to your board? I think it starts with the selection of the board members from the very beginning. Right. And so making sure your board is well rounded. You have men, you have women, you have young folks, you have folks from the community on your board bringing all of those skill sets that we just talked about, whether they be fundraisers, whether they be strategic thinkers or visionaries or they have social media influence, or they come from the banking industry or they're teachers or whatever it is that you need to make the thing work, making sure you have the right people on your board. And then once you have the right people onboarding them properly so that they understand the roles and responsibilities that are expected of them, there are no questions when they come on, you have them sign that pledge agreement that says, I understand we meet monthly. I understand I'm expected to make a $500 donation. I understand that I'm going to serve on at least one committee, right? And that I'm going to buy a table at the gala, whatever it is, put it in that agreement in the very beginning and have them sign off on it so they know going in, this is what is expected of me. And then once you get them on, find ways to get them engaged. If you have committees, if you have a development, fundraising, finance committee, get folks to sign up for that. And you want to get them engaged right away. And then you want to build culture, right? You want to build a culture where there is trust, where people feel like, I know who it is that's working beside me. I know what skill sets he or he brings. Right. And that I can fill the gaps that they don't have. And so that we're working together collaboratively for this great mission. On your meeting agenda, you should have mission moments where you're constantly letting the board know what great work the organization is doing to make them feel good about what they're doing, but also being transparent when there are some challenges. Right. If there's some challenges going on, don't try to hide them from the board. If you got some red on your budget line, you need to explain to the board what that is and help have them work through how you can make that red turn black. So I think this is culture thing, too, that making sure that those who have been left out traditionally, women, people of color, disabled, LGBT, all those folks need to be at the table so their voice is shown as just as important as who's been on the board traditionally. So I think building this culture, bringing them in, getting them well trained, having them sign off on that agreement, and then if you want them to do things for you, show them how to do it. If you want them to fundraise. Julia yes. Don't just say, let's fundraise. No one knows what that means. Exactly. And it's scary for people. It is scary. It's scary. But I think if you tell people going in, this is a serious commitment, this is going to require some time and some mental energy from you. If you can't do that right now, it's okay, don't sign up now. I need folks who have some spare time to not only be in the room, but be able to share their brain cells with us, right? Share those good ideas and experience that you bring. And if you want them to fundraise giving them the tools they need to fundraise, make sure there's a case for support. Make sure there are good stories, compelling stories and videos for you to share with them, right? If you want them to put something on social media, send them the verbiage. That you want, write it for them. And let them just post it. Send them the good picture, the good feel, good story, so that they can post it, right? So just prepare them. And then throughout the year in between board meetings, find things for them to do. I remember being a fundraiser, I had 5000 things on my plate at any given time. Not enough staff to do it. So I would put my board to work. I have on my calendar today. I need to call a donor to say thank you or a volunteer. A board member can do that. I don't have to do that. I have a letter that needs to go out. I'm going to send it to a board member and ask them to take a look at it, maybe even author it. I'm going to need some thank you letters written, going out. I'll send it to my board and have them write it out or maybe make some phone calls, whatever it is. If a grant application is going out, particularly if it's a short grant, can you take a quick gander at this grant before we hit submit? If you have someone who is attention, detail, focused, can you take a look at this grant application before and let me know what you think is anything you need that pops out, I mean, give them some tangible things to do. Take it off your plate and give it to them and give them an opportunity to be a part of what's going on, to be a part of the life of the organization in between board meetings so that they are bought in, right? And so I would do things like I worked at a homeless shelter. I would ask my board to come in and rake leaves like we're going to do a yard work. Day one in be at the shelter, see the people going in and out. Get a feel for, get your hands dirty in the soil. Get involved in what's going on the day to day of the organization so that they felt invested, they felt like they were a part of what's going on. So when I called them later and asked them about something in terms of maybe a policy that I was trying to consider, they would answer the phone or they would call me back. Giving Tuesday, I would put together a committee of individuals, people from staff, maybe a couple of volunteers, two or three board members. And every month we would meet a few months before Giving Tuesday to talk about what kind of campaign we wanted to put together for Giving Tuesday. So there were just ways that you can get your board involved and engaged in between board meetings outside of the committees that they're on, outside of board meetings so that they are involved in your organization on a regular basis, who. Should be managing the board. And this is always something that I struggled with as a development director. Should it be the executive director development director? Is it a team effort? Yeah. And so I think it depends on the makeup and size of your organization. So when I was the chief development officer, I worked with the development committee. Right. And so I had some say in how that relationship went. Ultimately, it's the executive director and the board chair who manages what goes on with the board. And that relationship is so important if they're meeting regularly, even if it's just a weekly check in, let me tell you what's going on. We just got a big grant from the Woodruff Foundation or for Lockheed Martin or Know. My chief development officer is going out on maternity leave. So we were going to have a vacancy for a few months. But I filled that position by having the director development step up in her stead. Like just keeping your board chair abreast of what's going on inside the organization I think is really important. So having a regular check in, if you have a board chair and executive director that are not meeting and not talking, then that's going to be a problem. But I think managing that relationship at the top will keep both entities involved and entangled with what's going on inside that organization. I agree. And I mean, I've served on nonprofit boards and right now I serve on the school board where I live. And of course, the board chair and the superintendent, I guess, would be the equivalent of like a nonprofit CEO. They meet all the time and they are setting the tone of leadership for the rest of the board members because if they were not engaged or interested or giving us notes and agendas and letting us know what's going on, then we would become quickly disengaged and just think that the work is not important. We did have a superintendent that was not as competent as our new superintendent. Thankfully, we've got a great new superintendent. But I think of that all the time when I think of nonprofit boards, it's so important to have. It's like an ecosystem. Like everything is working together. And if one piece is kind of dying, then the rest of the tree almost like the roots and the branches and the leaves, the rest of the tree is going to kind of fall apart. Yes. Absolutely. And you got to remember, the board is watching. They're watching two individuals who are supposed to be modeling what leadership looks like, so how conflict is handled. All of that is being watched and perceived by the rest of your board. If your chair is a person who knows how to handle conflict to how to de escalate things when things get hot and heated, how to bring the board back when they're going astray off the agenda, like all the things that we know that leaders do, your board is watching. And if they see that these two are invested in working in tandem, then they will follow suit. If your board chair is late to board meetings, yes. Or not being engaged or not organized, all of that trickles down. Oh, my gosh, such a good point. So, so many of my clients, and I know you hear this well, I don't have a working board. I inherited a board that won't fundraise. They don't give money. So what advice would you give to anyone listening that has that kind of board? Maybe they inherited it. Maybe it just kind of happened. Maybe it's been ten years, and I don't want to say deadwood. I don't know. What the target? I don't know. There's some people maybe on the board that maybe need to rotate off or need to get injected with some new energy. What would you say? Also, what's your philosophy on board giving? And does everyone have to give? So those are kind of two part questions. Yeah, those are two different things. So I just wrote a blog post. It's on my website, the board I'll link to. It in the show notes on term limits and the importance of term limits and knowing when it's time to go So the first thing I would ask someone who came to me with this issue, I would ask them, what does it say in your bylaws in terms of term limits? Are some of these people going to be rotating off soon? Which we hope if they're dead weight, they need to go. And if not, what provisions are in your bylaws about removing board members who are not pulling their weight? Because part of that board pledge that told you they need to assign early on when they first come in, something should be in that pledge that says, I understand that, should I not fulfill my expectations as a board member, that I may be asked to step down. And that's the conversation that can be a little difficult. But it's necessary because we don't need butts and seats just to have butts and seats. We need people who are on our board who are about this mission, who are about this work. And if you have somebody who's sitting there filling a seat and they're not pulling their weight, there's no sense having them in a room. So you need to start having some hard conversations with people and say, listen, if you are no longer interested, if you can no longer invest the time, if you cannot help us to fundraise, maybe it's not a good time for you to be on this board. Maybe it's time for you to step aside. And if you have a pipeline of people, which is people who are on your advisory board, people who might be on your fundraising committee, who are on the committee but not on the board, right. So hopefully you're building a pipeline throughout the year. So should you have to move a person out, you have someone who can step in and fill the rest of their term and fill the time for voting again. But I'm saying do an assessment. That means you might have to stir some things up. You got to move people around and get some people off the bus if they're just taking up space. If you have some folks who maybe have some potential, then sitting down with them and having a conversation and said. Look, let's talk, something might be going on in their personal life too. You never know your personal life. No one's mad at you. If you can't fulfill your role right now, we get it. Like, if you have a sick parent I've seen that happen. Or a child or it's not a season for you to be coming to our board meetings and doing all of this. Exactly. We get it. So, yeah, I say if you have these conversations early on with people, if you sit down with a person when they get on the board and they say, listen, my work is really busy. I'm a tax person between the months of February and May, I'm probably not going to come to a board meeting. Okay, we know that now, right. So we're not expecting you at the board meeting. We're going to send you the minutes and ask you to keep up with the minutes, but we know you're going to be absent those two or three months during tax season. We got it. But at least tell us that coming in so we know that don't just disappear. And now we're like, well, where did Bob go? So those are the kinds of things I'm talking about. So I say making sure that those term limits are in place, that there are provisions in your bylaws to move folks out who are not performing. And then for those folks who have potential, sit down with them and figure out, listen, how can we make this board experience rewarding for you? You come to the board, you have this great business experience, or you're a great orator, or you are a great editor, or you have the ability to raise money. How can we optimize those skills so that you're getting something out of this and we're getting something out. Are you still willing to do that? And so have those come to Jesus talks with the board members who are on the board who have some potential to do something powerful for your board, to see if you can kind of turn things around with them. And if you can't, it's time to go. I think keeping those lines of communication open can be really challenging for a new development director who's just come in. But what I try to say is, have someone that might have your back, like your executive director, your board chair, but keeping those lines of communication open and just always, like you just said, be willing to figure out what's going on with them. Maybe it is tax season, maybe it's end of year, and they work on another nonprofit, or maybe it's just something going on in their personal life. So really try to figure out what's going on with them and work out a solution together. I think that's just leadership at its core, to be honest. Yes, that's great. And I would try to find allies. Right. So since I was on the executive team, I would often go to board meetings with the vice president of finance, the vice president of programs. I was the vice president of fundraising. So there would be four or five vice presidents in those board meetings. Each one of those vice presidents has relationships with some board members. And so if I had an issue and I needed to get to someone, I might say to my vice president of finance, listen, you have a great relationship with Tim. Would you be willing to go talk to him about some of the things that we have some concerns about, or would you be willing with me to go with him? So I would find my allies, whether it be another vice president on staff, whether it be the board chair, whether it be my executive director, the chair of the fundraising committee who I worked closely with. I was trying to figure out who is the best person to talk to this person so they'll receive the information in the good way that we need for them to receive it. I might not be the right person, but maybe this guy is, or maybe that girl is. And so I would rally my folks in and say, listen, we have a couple of board members who are not pulling their weight, but I think Adam really has potential. You have a good relationship with Adam. Would you mind talking to him? So like you said, find those people who can help you. I mean, this is hard work, Julia. This is not fluff. This means that we got to be proactive. This is like relationships and dealing with politics and personal lives. And I wish more organizations had a director of board relations position. Oh, right. I really do wish they had a paid staff person whose job it was to keep that board engaged, to steward those relationships, to make sure they're giving their donations, to make sure that they are staying engaged with the organization. It's a full time job. Another question I have for you that I know has been coming up a lot and should have been coming up a lot earlier. How do we recruit a more diverse board, and how do we get away from the completely traditional, mostly white boards of yesteryear? I guess so. That's a question I get all the time. Where do we find people of color? I mean, the question is not probably the right question to ask, but in your experience, how can you if you want to diversify your board, not even just in race, but in maybe you want to have people from all walks of life and all different life experiences without seeming like it's. Tokenizing how do you recommend that boards do that? So one of the things I tell my boards are to look not only at your organization, but what's the ecosystem? You said the word ecosystem earlier, the ecosystem that your organization sits in, what other kinds of associations work in the space that you work in? So I don't know if you worked with animals. If there's a Facebook group that has people who love animals or who are concerned about animals, find out what other systems, what other groups, what other entities are in your ecosystem, who care about what you care about because that's where you can pull from to possibly find those individuals who have a passion for the work your organization is doing and who might be diverse, who might come to you with some diversity. And so I start there. When I'm working with a nonprofit to find diversity, I do board search, right? And often what I get is we need more diversity. So I sit down with them. I do, and they don't even know what that means oftentimes, right? Do you feel like your clients don't really know what that word means? Even we talk about that, right? Everything that I just told you that boards should do, I sit down with my clients and I do that. I learn all about the organization and mission. I look at their strategic plan, their fundraising plan, their newsletters. I meet an interview with some board members. I meet the executive director to find out who's on the board, what skill sets you need, what are you looking for, why do you need more diverse people? What are they going to bring to the board? Why do you need more Latinos? Why do you need folks who are handicapped? Why do you need people from the LGBTQ community? Tell me why. What are they going to bring? Because if they ask me why do they want me, I need to be transparent with them. So we have all of those conversations. I do a deep dive with them to learn a little. It's like we do a strategic visioning session. I do interviews sometimes I'll do surveys to find out exactly what this board is looking for. But then. Once I find out what that is, then I go about searching, right, doing some of the things I've mentioned to you. I'm looking in different places where I know the individuals who have passion for this work is right. And then I'm doing my due diligence. I'm making calls, I'm sending emails. I'm on Facebook, I'm on LinkedIn. I'm in these groups where these people are posting, finding out, reading to see who's who movers and shakers. And you're in that field, and I'm actually reaching out and saying, hi, I'm a consultant. I have this wonderful organization I'd love to tell you about. I think you would be a wonderful asset to the board. Would you be open to talking more and interestingly enough people? You'd be surprised cold call. You'd be surprised how many people who are flattered that you reached out to them and will at least say, I would love to learn more, and we'll take my call and I can talk to them about whether or not this is the right board, whether this is the right time for them to possibly serve. And so I do a wide search or a narrow search, depending on what you want to try to find the diverse members you're looking for. If you tell me you're looking for Latinos, I'm at the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. If you tell me you're looking for African Americans, I'm contacting 100 black men. I'm contacting links, I'm contacting Mocha Moms, the black fraternities. And sororities so you tell me what you're looking for, and I'm in those spaces searching for folks who are interested in that kind of thing. What's so interesting about what you said is that it's really about that one on one reaching out. There's no, like, putting out a press release that says, we want board members blanketing some kind of listserv or social media. It's really being intentional and strategic with what you're looking for and why and reaching out to people one on one. And that work cannot be automated, that work cannot be at scale. It really needs to be focused and meaningful. And that's, I think, what people get wrong a lot in board recruitment. They think they can just cut and paste an email and send it out to like, 30 people. And that's why I think the boards that we have are the boards that we have because we haven't done the work. We haven't done that intentional work that you do. So, Julia, I think looking for board members, you take the same energy and time and purpose as you do when you're looking for staff, right? These are unpaid, like staff people, right? You got to really make sure you have the right people sitting at that table. And often boards don't have time to do this work. Staff, they have their own jobs, which is why they hire me, because I can spend time, I can take three months or six months, and it takes me that long. Sometimes it takes me a year. I did a board search for an organization called Media Justice last year. And it took me a full year to seat six people because I was in all of those spaces. I was looking at the free press. I was looking all the places in Media where I thought these folks would be wanting to serve on this board. And I had to conduct interviews and I had to check references and look at resumes and do all of those things. And that all takes time. And sometimes they just say, I don't have the bandwidth to do this. And so this is why they hired me to do it. So how can we, after hopefully, we have recruited or engaged a thriving board or hopefully on the way to thriving board, how can we build a culture, you call it, of collegiality and reward. So start off onboarding them is going to be key. How you bring them in after you've done all the work, you got them to say, yes, they signed the pledge agreement, they're ready, right? They're on the committees. They signed up for fundraising and the governance committee. Now what? How do we get them engaged? And so how you bring them in and onboard them is how you start that relationship will determine how long they'll stay and how much they'll get involved. So if you bring them in, RA them up, introduce them. So at the orientation and onboarding session, bring in a couple of staff members to meet them. Make sure there are a couple of board members there. Have them introduce themselves or tell them a little bit about themselves, personal why they joined this board, why they're passionate about the mission. Then maybe have a video, a mission moment. This is how my onboarding goes. Have a mission moment video. Or have someone tell a story, the executive director. Give a little history and context about the organization we started in 1986. Blah, blah, blah. We serve 4000 people a year. Show your video RA, make them feel good. Have a couple of board members there and then have someone talk about board work. So I usually come in 20 minutes and I do my little board service, one on one. Board service is about duty of care, duty, obedience, blah, blah, blah. Here's the roles and responsibilities of the board member. You have rights as a board member. This is all of these things that here's your pledge agreement. Make sure you sign it. And here's your board toolkit. Here's your case for support. Here's your strategic plan. Here are your bylaws. Any other policies, conflict resolution policy. Yes, we do have insurance to make sure you're insured. Like everything. Give them everything at the onset. Here's your board too. I love a binder. I love a binder. Yes. And now we have portals. But people that's true. You can do it, right? Right. So we have portals. We put all that information. You could do board BIOS in there with faces and names of people. So I think anytime, go in and look at the board portal, oh, John oh, he's married. He's the VP at Wells Fargo. He's been there for 15 years. He brings these strengths to the board. So at any given time, I have access to information. How you bring them on at the beginning, providing them with all that information, making them feel welcome, introducing them to staff, introducing the board, giving them opportunities to engage, is key to keeping them engaged and building this culture. And then throughout the year, bringing them in for some training. So I do something called board bites, right? And so I'm on a board, and so I'm the chair of board development. So every meeting they give me ten minutes on the agenda to talk about something board related, whether it's about fundraising, whether it's about conflict resolution or how you can get engaged. And so that throughout the year, on every agenda, there's something about board work on that agenda. And then at the big annual retreat that you have the end year, you might want to bring in a speaker that might do an hour or two hour session, on board service or whatever it is. Throughout the year, you're having social activities, a Christmas party, a Mother's Day event, having them come so that they can get to know each other and having some sense of culture so that they can build trust. Maybe having a board day of giving where the board goes out as a board and volunteers either for your organization or for another organization. I did that with a board. We went and volunteered for another organization and did a walk. Such team building too. Had our T shirts made with our logo on it, board member on the back. We spent the whole day walking for the Atlanta Jewish Foundation. Beautiful, sunny day. We got to know each other. We were talking, we were laughing, and we were doing something good for yet another organization. It built trust amongst. So those are the kinds of things you have to do. You have to create this place where people feel good about coming to. I'm looking forward to coming to a board meeting. I know the people there. I trust them. I like them. We're all excited about this mission. I'm going in today with my hat on and my eyes open and my brain focused on ways I can make this organization better. Amazing. I love that so much. I love that it's about team building. And what's so interesting about what you said is that it's about what the board members get out of it too. It's not just like, what can they give us and how much water we can squeeze from a stone. It's what can they get out of it? A lot of times, if I've sat on boards or volunteered, there's been networking opportunities and I've made connections and I've made friends, and there have been professional and personal benefits to me as well. So I think that's so important, giving them that opportunity to do good and change the world and push progress on a cause they care about, but also to connect with each other because it's all about the relationships, particularly after COVID. Where everybody is looking for connection. You got to remember in your board members, they might be being pulled at church to volunteer. They may have kids who are on some kind of softball team and they're the coach of the softball team growing. Ask a busy person selling girl scout cookies. They got all these things pulling on them and they join those things because those networks do something for them, right? And so it's the same thing with boards. If you want them to take a little time out of doing all of those other things and save an hour every month to meet with you to make sure that they're focused, you got to make it so that they want to come. They got other things that are pulling on them, too. What's going to make them stop and leave all those other things and say, you know what, I'm going to stay focused and I'm going to do this board thing. So, yes, you're vying for their attention and it has to be something that they get out of it as well. Well, Crystal, so many people are going to be clamoring to learn more and work with you and get on your email list and tell us where we can connect with you. Yes, absolutely. Thank you, Julia. My website is and visit it to keep up with what's going on with me. I have blogs. In fact, next week on Tuesday, March 20, eigth, I'm going to have an event, women on boards to celebrate women's history Month. And you can learn more about that on my website as well. Thank you, Julia, for having me. I love being here with you and talking about boards. I love boards. I can tell. I mean, it really like even though it's, you know, I would love to be in person, really. The energy, the excitement, the passion just exudes through the screen. And it's so funny because it's not a topic that a lot of my clients are very excited about. Well, they want to learn more and I think that it's just something that seems so daunting, especially if you are a new development director, a new fundraising person, how to navigate it, how to get people excited. These were fantastic tips. And it's so important to be excited about this work because if we're not excited about it, who's going to be excited about? Right? Like, we have to be passionate and excited about this work. Absolutely. All right, well, I really appreciate it. Everyone go check out Crystal's website. I will put everything in the show notes, all of the links to everything and all the resources we talked about. And until next time, have a great rest of your day. Thanks again, Crystal, for being on yay. Thank you, Julia. Well, hey there. I wanted to say thank you for tuning into my show and for listening all the way to the end. If you really enjoyed today's conversation, make sure to subscribe to the show in your favorite podcast app and you'll get new episodes downloaded as soon as they come out. I would love if you left me a rating or review because this tells other people that my podcast is worth listening to, and then me and my guests can reach even more earbuds and create even more impact. So that's pretty much it. I'll be back soon with a brand new episode, but until then, you can find me on Instagram at Julia Campbell 77. Keep changing the world, you nonprofit unicorn.