“The time is NOW. The New Year is here and this is going to be the year. We are going to accomplish every goal we set before ourselves. We are going to save the world!”
Sound familiar?
Every time a New Year arises, the slate is clean and the goals are set. We always begin with good intentions and clear goals, but sometimes the motivation dwindles as the year progresses. Whether you are a board member, or a non-profit professional, try implementing these tactics throughout the year in order to keep your board on track.

First and Foremost – Know thy Mission

This first item may sound obvious, but really it is the most important: Identity.
If you are having trouble motivating board members or the board of directors as a whole, then the big question comes out: Are we representing our organization and the mission set forth by the non-profit entity and its founders to the fullest potential?

At the next board meeting, distribute sheets of paper and ask two simple questions: “What is our non-profit organization’s mission statement? What are you doing to fulfill the mission statement in your actions?”
You may get a few looks of confusion, but this activity certainly helps you realize whether or not your organization is amidst an identity crisis. If board members cannot identify the mission clearly, then you are not depicting yourselves consistently in the community. If that is the case, you may also have board members that have good intentions, but their hearts are not in the right place.

The Mission Statement of the organization is the roadmap in which everything revolves. If you are challenged with motivating your board in 2014, then first and foremost make sure the destination is clear, the roadmap is carefully planned, and everyone on board is ready for the ride and the bumps and turns that will come along as the year progresses.

Establish Accountability Partners

Set goals, and share your goals with others.

Recently at a board meeting I challenged everyone to write down one long-term and short-term goal they had for the New Year. I discussed the importance of having a target that was clear and measurable- and with an anticipated deadline.
After a few moments of deep thought, every board member and volunteer had written down goals. At that point, I presented the twist to the activity- having everyone in the room exchange their goals with someone else.

“The person who you are matched up with will be your accountability partner from this point forward,” I said. “Keep an open line of communication through out the year and check in with one another. Challenge each other to go above and beyond goals previously set.”
“Let’s not end 2014 wishing we did more. Instead, let’s end 2014 in awe that we accomplished everything we set out to do- plus so much more.”

One Board Member asked if they could copy their sheet of paper before handing it off to their partner, in order to help them remember the goals they had set for themselves.

That brings me to my next point: When you set goals for yourself, own those goals.
Write your goals down. Memorize your goals. Share your goals and objectives with others. Have clear intentions- if you are concerned that you will forget the goals you have established for yourself, then you are already not owning your goals and making yourself accountable to stay on track. Live for your ambition.

Create a Time Capsule
Have your Board of Directors write a letter to themselves.  In the letter, have them state the current status of the organization and their involvement within the organization, and where they would like to be in six months. From there, have the board members seal their letters in a self-addressed envelope. Round up the letters, and then drop them in the mail six months later.  When the Board Members open their time capsules, they will either be reminded of the goals they had set for themselves, or they can feel a sense of accomplishment that they are on the right track.

With a New Year comes a new set of challenges. In the non-profit world, evolution is essential. However, we must always keep track of the goals we set forth for ourselves, while never losing sight of our mission and identity.

Whitney Ehresman