A very wise client of ours shared this story with me: The day he was being inaugurated as the new leader of his school, the retiring, long-time head of school advised him that his most important role from that day forward was to “know something important about every member of this community.” His advice was not to know everyone… Or to manage his board… Or to placate his faculty. He was to make it his business to know something important about everyone. This, in one elegant, simple story, guides my thinking today on stewardship – especially board stewardship.
We know that when we stop with “thank you” we haven’t really delivered stewardship. And we know that when we thank and list donors in an annual report or on a donor wall , we haven’t really delivered stewardship. AND we know that when we steward those “easy” donors who give restricted or designated gifts, we also haven’t delivered stewardship. (We know this, right? Of course we do.) Even the most thoughtful offices and officers can be stymied by board members… They are always THERE, right? We discuss strategy; they know our organization from the inside out; they give because they believe in all we are doing.
Board members who receive great stewardship themselves will share it with others. We must model the kind of stewardship experience we want them to deliver on our behalf. That’s important but that’s the smallest reason.
Precisely because they are always there, Board members should receive the best we’ve got in the stewardship category:
- Are they being deployed well? Do they feel their service is being well used? Are they on the right committees and doing things that are personally satisfying for the organization?
- Why does their gift matter? Sure, board members care about all that you do, but there is probably some aspect of your institution that makes their heart beat a little faster, that they especially love that you all accomplish together…
- And that bring us back around to that good advice: know something important. What did each member of your board bring to the table – expertise, insight, willingness to take a stand on a tough subject, lead an effort, be diplomatic when diplomacy was difficult?
Great board stewardship rolls together that old adage: “Time, Talent, and Treasure”. We are strongest when the board brings all three. Our relationship is strongest when we steward all three.
Board members: what is the best stewardship you have received from your organization? Share here! To listen in on the best stewardship, we have received – check out this podcast.