Staying in touch with the Board is obviously of great importance, whether via phone calls, email or other means. But what do we talk about? How do we support and improve board performance as well as enrich the experience of serving on the board? The answer lies in organizing your "staying in touch" efforts around three broad categories of information:
Information needed to conduct the Board’s business:
This includes the “usual suspects” such as Board minutes, updates, etc. The important point here is to make sure there are no surprises (i.e., Board members saying, “Why weren’t we told about this earlier?”).
In addition, you can stay in touch by offering your reflections on what worked well at the last Board meeting and what could be improved. Use this as the basis for an ongoing dialogue with Board members.
Information/knowledge that enhances a person’s ability to serve on the Board:
Quite simply, an educated Board member is a better Board member. Use the process of staying in touch as an ongoing education program focusing on two areas. First, broadening and deepening the Board members’ knowledge of your organization (e.g., facts and insights about the membership) as well as the industry, profession or cause you represent. Second, you can develop a reading list of articles that serve as Food for Thought to provide new and strategic perspectives about the issues confronting your organization.
Information that enriches collaboration among Board members and with staff:
Another way to stay in touch is to provide Board members the opportunity to share information about themselves, their experiences and their talents. Think of this as an ongoing Getting to Know You process. It lets them share stories and deepen relationships between Board meetings. This information will also help staff better understand and work with the Board.
And speaking of staff, consider providing a Getting to Know Staff blurb as part of the staying in touch process. Highlight staff expertise and accomplishments and give them the opportunity to offer their expert opinion about issues facing your organization.