“Volunteers do not necessarily have the time; they have the heart.” – Elizabeth Andrew.
Recently I saw a post on an association’s member forum with a negative comment about the Board of Directors and the perks they receive. It shocked me that association members may not see or understand the amount of work a Board member puts into an organization as a volunteer. I could not do my job without the dedication and support of these amazing people who dedicate so much of their personal time to association business.
As an association staff member, I see the incredible dedication and allotment of personal time of the Board members I work with. They are quick to respond to staff and member enquiries, willing to review documents and policies, and available for ad hoc meetings to discuss brewing issues.
Board members dedicate their personal time; evenings, weekends and even time they should be working at their own jobs on issues that arise in association business. They are the face of the organization and often wear the hat of a Board member instead of a member at association events and meetings.
The critics may see that a Board member gets to go on a trip for a Board meeting. What they do not understand is that the Board members rarely see any other part of that city besides its airport, the chosen hotel, and the boardroom. These meetings often occur over weekends during the Board member’s personal time. The critics need to understand that the Board is a group of volunteers with a common goal of the association’s success.
There are ways to support these humble volunteers in front of their peers and recognize them for their contributions to the organization. It is important to demonstrate to the membership the work the Board members do; this can include sharing information in:
- Member Newsletters – reports from the Board of Directors
- Member Communication Forums
- Annual Reports
- President’s Message at AGM
- Annual events and meetings recognition
Board members are not the type of people who will stroke their own egos and brag about the work they do with the association. Instead, they observe situations and think like a representative of the association on ways to add member value and return on investment of membership.
Engage the Critics
It might also be time to engage the critics and invite them to join a volunteer committee or even the Board of Directors. This may lead them to understand the work these Board members accomplish and how this work benefits the association’s membership.
I’m lucky to work with amazing volunteers who are dedicated to bettering the associations they belong to. They deserve that dinner, the extra cookie in the boardroom and a huge pat on the back thanking them for their incredible volunteerism.
Without Board members, associations would not be what they are today.
Read more about Association’s Board in this article: Understanding the Structure of a Board & Your Role