You’ve gone to a lot of trouble
- to source and recruit your Board members.
- to choose committed, connected and captivated Board members.
- inducting Board members and getting them up to date on the great work of your non-profit.
- introducing them to the challenges and opportunities of your non-profit.
So why wouldn’t you explore the option with them of being a Board Ambassador. Here are some compelling reasons why it makes sense and some ideas to implement a successful Ambassador program.
Should board members be your non-profit Ambassadors?
There is no compelling case not to encourage them to take on this role. I would caution about conscripting them into this role – they must want to do. If you foist the role on Board members without their buy-in they might see it as an imposition and not effectively represent you when opportunities arise.
It shouldn’t be a big ask to effectively harness the network, commitment and enthusiasms of these people given that they already have committed to go that extra mile for you.
Reasons to encourage the Board Ambassador role?
# 1 Having people ‘elevate and celebrate’ the great work of your non-profit presents the human side of your mission to a greater audience. Because Board members are committed and emotionally connected they can represent you with credibility and feeling and are not seen as having a vested interest.
# 2 Each time the Board member engages to ‘elevate and celebrate’ your non-profit they reaffirm their commitment to you mission.
# 3 You can’t do it alone, every non-profit needs a network of advocates and supporters to raise their profile, introduce their work and identify and champion opportunities that match your mission.
# 4 You can’t buy personal recommendations and endorsement, they have to be genuinely given and shared. The Board Ambassador role works a bit like ‘word of mouth’ advertising which is the most trusted form of advertising in the commercial world.
# 5 Board Ambassador’s can gain valuable insights and stakeholder feedback on the work of your non-profit that can be used to review strategy, identify risk and develop policy to support the Board stewardship role.
# 6 Being and effective Board Ambassador encourages a deeper understanding and connection with the work of your non-profit. Without this understanding you cannot effectively ‘elevate and celebrate’ the mission and work of your non-profit.
The role of an non-profit Board Ambassador?
You can craft and mould the role to suit your purpose and the interest and background of each Board member.
Typically the Board Ambassadors role is to
- reflect and embody your mission, values and services,
- represent a credible and visible promotion of your non-profit in the community, and to
- build connections and relationships that extend your mission and advocate for your non-profit.
The skills of your non-profit Board Ambassador
Know and understand your mission and purpose – it is important that they understand how you give meaning to your mission and purpose. They should be familiar with the skills and competency you have in-house and how this is leveraged to pursue your mission.
Leader – your Board Ambassador must represent the values and mission of your non-profit.They must be passionate
Credible – It’s likely that you Board members will have this characteristics in spades this after all is why you’ve selected them as a Board member.
Networker – Board Ambassadors will be well-connected and willing to leverage their network to ‘elevate and celebrate’ the mission and work of your non-profit. they also should be comfortable with networking in your non-profits sphere of business
Connected and part of your ‘team’ – As they go about their role your Board Ambassador will make useful connections which they need to drive back to your non-profit for active follow-up.
Your Board Ambassador toolkit
There are a few basics that you should put in place to support the Board members that take on this role, they include
Messaging templates – work with your marketing, or failing that your leadership team, to craft some key messages or insights that will assist your Board Ambassador ‘elevate and celebrate’ your non-profit. These templates don’t need to be extensive but should capture in a ‘story’ or ‘anecdote’ format how your non-profit has assisted others to meet a challenge/resolve a problem.
Media guidance – you likely have a media or spokesperson Policy for your organisation – ensure your Board Ambassador is aware of, and has a copy of these, so that role model the expectations placed on staff and Board. Ensure they are familiar with the social media platforms that you use and can identify when these might assist them or showcase their Ambassador role ‘in action’.
Toolkit of marketing material – consider what the Board Ambassador might need to effectively deliver a ‘call to action’. This might be as simple as their business card, or a the cards of your leadership team, and could extend to a brochure/pamphlet of your work. Key and current statistics that demonstrate your results are also useful to capture. Think of your toolkit as some ‘sound bites’ that your Board Ambassadors can draw on in conversations with their network.
Prepare – Board members might benefit from preparation to take on this role. This might include some training or rehearsal of what to say and how to connect or skillfully network. Be prepared to invest in your Board Ambassadors and extend and develop their skills. Work with the Board Ambassadors to map their network and identify possible rich sources of connection/referral for the work of your non-profit.
Identify priorities – you might like to set some key areas for promotion or key events you would like your Board Ambassador to attend in the coming months. Be clear about these goals so that they understand what time and other commitment is expect of them – once established this also assists in pulling together the supporting marketing/background material for the Board Ambassadors use.
Co-ordinate with staff – Board Ambassadors could be assisted and supported by a nominated staff member. Matching in this way has an additional benefit of building relationships between the Board and key staff but also ensures the Board member is able to get support or clarification when needed. You might even consider a ‘team’ approach to the Ambassador role – that is to say they go out in pairs on ‘assignment’.
Board review – make the Board Ambassador outreach role part of your Board agenda and stewardship. Schedule time to review the focus of the role in the coming months. Request updates and insights from Board Ambassadors at Board meetings to enable a review of the role.
Celebrate the Board Ambassador role – ‘elevate and celebrate’ the Ambassador role in as many forums as possible – to staff, on the website, newsletters and reports. Showcasing this work may have unintended flow on for your non-profit.
Where to from here
The first step is of course getting your Board to support this approach. You might need to first develop a Board Report to outline the model for their consideration and commitment.
If you compel and convert them – then it is time to develop your ‘Board Ambassador’ framework, resources and toolkit.
If you need assistance to implement and develop your Board Ambassador role please feel free to contact me.
About the author – Helen Attrill, MBA
Hi, Just a bit about myself to help you understand what my driving mission is. I am committed to helping aged care and not for profit organisations ‘accept the challenge of industry change’™.
I have over 26 years as an industry and organisation leader in the aged care and not for profit sector and have led the successful implementation of significant sector, profession and organisational change. Armed with this background I can guide and assist you with your change management challenge.
To find out more about my background visit the Meet Helen page. If you are still struggling with change and need some support or assistance please feel free to contact me by emailing me at firstname.lastname@example.org