Is Your Group Taking Advantage Of Board Personal Statements?

It never ceases to amaze me how few orchestras, or nonprofit performing arts organizations in general, require board members to write a personal statement about why they serve on the board. Nonetheless, they can go a long way toward increasing ownership and help articulate their connection to the institution.

Whenever I do any extended board development work, it’s one of our first activities; in many cases, even before I arrive onsite.

Adaptistration People 208They don’t need to be complicated, the best examples I come across are rarely more than a paragraph long but they are from the heart. I’m particularly fond of those that include a personal anecdote that chronicles how the board member crossed paths with the organization.

From a content perspective, they have several uses; obvious choices include website and social media use but some of the more creative implementation can be found in board recruitment material. They can even be integrated into elevator speeches.

I’ve always been partial to the “why I’m involved” approach. It serves as both initial question to board members and a title for ensuing responses. Have you seen any organizations that make good use personal statements?

About Drew McManus

"I hear that every time you show up to work with an orchestra, people get fired." Those were the first words out of an executive's mouth after her board chair introduced us. That executive is now a dear colleague and friend but the day that consulting contract began with her orchestra, she was convinced I was a hatchet-man brought in by the board to clean house.

I understand where the trepidation comes from as a great deal of my consulting and technology provider work for arts organizations involves due diligence, separating fact from fiction, interpreting spin, as well as performance review and oversight. So yes, sometimes that work results in one or two individuals "aggressively embracing career change" but far more often than not, it reinforces and clarifies exactly what works and why.

In short, it doesn't matter if you know where all the bodies are buried if you can't keep your own clients out of the ground, and I'm fortunate enough to say that for more than 15 years, I've done exactly that for groups of all budget size from Qatar to Kathmandu.

For fun, I write a daily blog about the orchestra business, provide a platform for arts insiders to speak their mind, keep track of what people in this business get paid, help write a satirical cartoon about orchestra life, hack the arts, and love a good coffee drink.

Related Posts