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Charter  Member Roles  Role Descriptions  Subcommittee Descriptions 

TIps to build a board

1. Find Your Champions

The first step to building a board is to find your champions. You're looking for engaged community members who care about the mission and want to create change. Start by looking inside of the networks of your staff -- maybe an outstanding blood drive coordinator, or a recipient wanting to share their story with the world.

Lessons Learned: We started by finding members from across the community who represented various industries and cultures, but building a coalition of movers & shakers from multiple industries across the community is vital to success.

When our boards launched, we made sure that our community partners were represented. Hospital staff provided critical support and advocated on behalf of blood donors and patients, media partners provided natural communicators who knew how to get the word out, fellow nonprofits knew the value of coalition building and collaborative action, and community business leaders & chamber staff knew how to cultivate relationships within the business community.

2. Build the Framework

A well-defined framework is the backbone of any successful board, and you can check out our foundational documents here. Determine what works for your organization and most importantly, what works for your community.

Does your group meet virtually, in-person, or a combination of both? What does your onboarding look like? What is the size of the community you want to serve?

Lessons Learned: Those important questions don't have one-size-fits-all answers, but we settled on six full board meetings a year in each region, one held every other month, and six subcommittee meetings a year held in the months in between. This enables our boards to come together six times a year to report out wins and plan for success, and six times a year in the smaller & focused subcommittee groups to get down to the nitty-gritty. Our three subcommittees are Communications, Events & Partnerships.

3. Cultivate Culture

Now that your people are in place, it's time to start the real work. It starts with building an environment that encourages open communication, mutual respect, and a shared commitment to the cause.

But that commitment can look different for every member. Play to their strengths and make sure they know they're valued. Building this trust boosts member retention, ensuring the long-term stability and productivity of the board.

Lessons Learned: We view our boards as extensions of our organization, and stay connected to keep them engaged. Whether it's a quick text, a thorough email, a virtual meeting, a happy-hour brainstorming session, or a Facebook group chat, we stay connected.

Our members are out there speaking on our behalf, so make sure they've got the tools and resources they need. As part of our onboarding, all members receive branded merch to wear, and are included in major initiatives throughout the organization.

The best advice we can give is to jump right in and start building your board. Advocacy doesn't wait for perfection. You can adjust as you go, and you'll be surprised yourself what the next five years will bring!