3rd of a 5 part series: Former Board Members as Researchers

This is the third in a series of five blog posts talking about how Board members who rotate off your Board are an overlooked resource for many Main Street organizations. This blog piece explores how former Board members can be extraordinarily useful to current Board leadership to undertake common as well as confidential research to solve problems for the organization or help with future planning.

 Board Presidents have a big job Board Presidents of local Main Street organizations take on a far more onerous job than any one committee chairperson. They often:

Whew! Board Presidents do all of this (and more) when things are going well! Board Presidents need help.

 Before Board members “retire” when their Board specified term is up, and rotate off the Board, they could be sounded out for their interest in taking on specific, short-term, research projects for the Board President. What I have in mind are brief research projects, such as helping the Board President to gather information useful for the organization.  Depending on the skills and background of the “retiring” Board member, they could be charged with the responsibility to:

As you can see from the above list, there are countless small research projects that former Board members can undertake to help the Board President move the organization forward. I am sure that you can think of many other tasks that need to get done by a person with deep knowledge about the organization. The Board President should make sure the Executive Director understands the purpose of these research assignments (most likely, the Executive Director does not have the time to do this work). Hopefully staff will delight in having a trustworthy former Board member undertake this needed research. The bottom line for this research conducted for the Board President, is to allow him or her to make better decisions.

 Former Board members are organizational assets Former Board members have unique skill sets and long-term relationships within the organizational hierarchy. These Board members understand and know the organizaiton’s history, culture and traditions because they have participated in their creation. Most have come up through the Main Street ranks, having served as volunteers and committee chairpersons.  All are donors to the organization, through sponsorship or by making their own annual gifts and participating in fundraisers. Many have served as unofficial liaisons to area clubs and organizations and can be counted on as excellent ambassadors for the Main Street organization. Former Board members are organizational assets, then, that are too important to lose. So consider using one or two “retiring” Board members as “honest brokers” who can bring useful information to the Board President for current needs and future planning. More ideas coming These are just a few ideas about how to continue to involve former Board members in the organization when their term has ended.  In future blog posts we will discuss how former Board members can help with fundraising, and the Executive Director in program development. This information was developed for a training session called “Keeping Former Board Members Involved When their Term is Done.” Please contact us if you wish to know more about this session. Look for these posts in the coming weeks. .