Mission Moments: Keeping Your Board Connected

Image copyright: Shutterstock.com/kbuntu. Used with permission.

Image copyright: Shutterstock.com/kbuntu. Used with permission.

Mission Moments: Keeping Your Board Connected

Are your board members missing meetings? Not showing up at events? Are your board members M.I.A.? Fear not! You can keep them engaged with mission moments. 

What's a Mission Moment? 

A mission moment is a way of infusing the mission into everything. It's a way of bringing an awareness of the cause back into even the most mundane, routine, dullest of meetings or into the most superficial of events. It's a way of grounding all things an organization does with it's purpose so that the reason for the organization's existence is never drowned out by the business of the organization.

What does a Mission Moment Look Like?

A mission moment can look lots of different ways. One organization I worked with had a mother of an child with autism come to a board meeting. She brought her son who has autism with her. Before the board meeting got started, she shared with the board about how her son was doing, about what the programs the agency offered had helped her son and her family and about what the agency meant to her. It was powerful.

Another organization had someone who was a caregiver for a loved one with Alzheimer's talk to a board about what it's like to take care of someone with Alzheimer's disease. 

In the newly released book, Nonprofit Board Service for the Genius in All of Us, Susan Schaefer, CFRE and Bob Wittig, MBA (2015), offer some other examples of mission moments. They cite a theater holding a board meeting on stage, a dance troupe teaching board members to dance, and a culinary program cooking for a board. Recently, Russell, Director of North Georgia Camp & Retreat Ministries and co-founder of Davis Nonprofit Consulting, got his board of directors out of the comforts of a conference room with climate control and held a meeting at Outpost, a pioneering site on the edge of Glisson's boundaries. What a great way to experience the mission.

 Not Just for Board Meetings

Mission moments aren’t just for board meetings. You can have them at events as well. At events, you might not want to interrupt the flow of activities so you might want to offer connections to the mission in other ways. You can have table tent cards that have pictures or stories about clients. Your printed program can have client stories. Once, at a ribbon cutting for a new building, all of our clients whose identities were confidential made handprints which they decorated with paint, glitter, and stickers to represent themselves. We hung all of the handprints on a banner. For us, it was a mission moment, a way of having the children be present even though they were not physically present. When we gave people tours of the building, we “introduced” them to our clients (without revealing identities, of course) by pausing in front of the banner and talking about the children who come to our agency, about their stories, about the work we do with them.  We shared our love for our work and the people we served.

The Spectrum of Moments

Mission moments, then, can be light, celebratory, and fun. They can be somber and sobering. They can be experiential and participatory or passive. There is no one correct form of mission moment. The important thing is to keep your board members connected to your purpose. When your meetings become all about budgets and policy, it's easy for board members to forget why they wanted to get involved with you and your organization, rather than another organization. Every organization has a budget and policy. 

It's time to remind them what's special about you. For engaged board members, keep your board members connected to your cause by weaving mission moments into everything you do. They didn't sign on to attend meetings. They can do that anywhere. They signed on to make a difference. Let them know that they do.

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