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From Audio: Write a Board Report Your Board Members Want to Read

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station description Bringing you fresh ideas and featured conversations with nonprofit thought leaders
Successful Nonprofits Podcast
Duration: 04:38
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the board report. Keep in mind that unless you are running an association of other nonprofits, the vast majority of your boards have never been an executive director, so they're a board member, but they don't really know what you as the chief executive E. D. Does on a daily weekly monthly basis. So part of what your board report does is it gives them some meaningful insight into your work as the chief executive. And if you do that well, the other thing that happens is that it increases your board's knowledge about issues that are just not covered in those committee reports. And finally, believe it or not, the last purpose of your board report is to help build that relationship with your board, to establish you yourself as the expert and the authority, and help really board members to see what value you bring to the organization now, believe it or not, even though it's got this ambitious purpose, your board report should be pretty short. So if it's in the word format, then probably about two pages, and if it's in a Power point format, I would say no more than 10 slides Now if you're just doing a narrative in the word format. I would also encourage you to expand your spacing where it as an option for 1.15 lines. It's a little better spacing than single spaced, and it's not quite as large of a spacing as 1.5 for double space. But so if you do 1.15 lines, your board members will be able to read this report so much easier. Also use bullets. Use bullets wherever you can as humans. We love to read those bullets, and we often get bogged down to the text. Now, if you choose the power point option, you want to carefully curate those 10 slides, and you want to make sure that you have graphics that are visually appealing and you use some bullets. But don't put everything you're going to say onto those power point slides. And the reason is, in the ideal world, if we're going to use Power point, we should use it as a storyboard. It helps us tell the story, but people are listening to what we are saying. They're not reading what we are saying on the screen, so now that you know that this board report needs to be two pages or less. Here's what I want you to include in it. I want you to include a mission moment, a mention of the dashboard. You're not going to include a full organizational dashboard in this report. But mention of the dashboard the highlight of your greatest success since the last meeting, the highlight of your greatest challenge since the last meeting. A forward thinking topic of the month and opportunities for board engagement. So those six areas are the things that I really want to see on your board report. Now I know you're probably thinking, Dolph, there is no way I can put all of that into two pages. Well, that's why once you're done listening to this bonus break, you've got to go up to the website. I have a template where you will see I've actually drafted a sample board report in two pages with each of these six items. Now let's walk through each one the mission moment. That should really be your very first one, and it should make your board members feel really good. It should, for example, maybe describe a client success talk about how a donor connected with your mission or another great example is detailing how a specific staff member went above and beyond to help a client or to achieve your mission. Now you only want one mission moment, so you pick the most compelling mission movement that's happened within your organization since your last board meeting, and you share that in one or two paragraphs. That's it. But here's why. You're going to start with the mission moment. It is going to engage your board members. They are going to start reading, and they are going to get involved in the mission story. And once they get involved in that mission story, they are going to continue reading the rest of your report now. I also mentioned that you should make a reference to a dashboard, so if your organization is
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