By Kyle Schnurbusch, OrgStory Partner & Director
Ideas to keep your staff and board engaged with your mission during turbulent times.
Crises can make it especially difficult to keep staff and board members engaged as they have anxieties and responsibilities outside of your organization pulling their attention in multiple directions. This does not mean that staff and board engagement is impossible but rather means that your organization needs to be intentional and consistent in how you engage them. Here are some tips and exercises you can use to re-energize your team.
Establish a fundraising campaign
Engagement Level: High
One way to help engage staff and board members is to create a fundraising campaign in which they are the key ambassadors. Peer-to-peer fundraising is not only a great way to raise money for your organization, but it also allows for more people to get involved and have a hand in the success of the organization outside of their usual duties as a staff or board member.
It is important that the organization be involved in this process too from the standpoint of helping build consistent messaging for the sake of campaign promotion. This can be done by building a simple campaign guide with language, graphics and statistics for staff and board members to share as part of their fundraising efforts.
Reflect on your mission and vision together
Engagement Level: Medium
This is an exercise that a lot of organizations don’t do enough of, especially during times of crisis. It recenters people around the “why.” Something your organization could try is hosting a virtual video call where anybody from the staff or board is welcome to join. During this call, give people space to be in front of each other and talk about what brought them all to the organization. It’s a great, interesting way to reconnect that doesn’t require a lot of planning, and from experience, the people who participate will leave spirited.
Invite a client to a virtual meeting
Engagement Level: Low
There are a lot of virtual meetings happening at the moment, and it can sometimes be monotonous. However, a great way to shake up a meeting and tie it back to your mission and values is to invite a client to be a special guest and give a personal testimony. That way, staff and board members can hear about their impact directly from the source. Obviously, this should only happen if the client is comfortable with sharing their story, but hearing about the difference they have made can galvanize people.
No matter what the engagement idea, it’s important to make sure there’s a central voice that the organization is communicating from. When multiple people are contributing, sometimes messages and asks can get mixed, which can become confusing, especially when staff and board members are scarce on time and resources. During a crisis, it seems like everybody needs something. People can get easily overwhelmed if they don’t know where to go and instead may do nothing. It’s important to have a unified voice and tone centered around your greatest needs to keep asks clear.
It’s also important to keep in mind that sometimes storytelling for the sake of storytelling is enough to warrant taking time to do it as an exercise. Storytelling doesn’t need to have an ask associated with it; it can be solely for the sake of establishing empathy and connection with an organization’s mission and values.
What are ways you’ve engaged your board and team differently in the last six months? Share your story with us: firstname.lastname@example.org.