For Impact


Own Your Own Story

For Impact Ideas | | Nick Fellers

A follow-on to Tom’s sharing of the For Impact Guidebook: On Boards.

Last fall I was in Boston helping a friend (executive director) look at his organization strategy, board leadership and funding plan.

I sat in on a board meeting to observe.

There were several board members that kept saying things like,

  • “Just tell us the story we should be using.”
  • “We need ‘the script'”.

The staff – for its part – was laying out MORE GOALS for the board and MORE ACTIONS.

The energy felt pretty negative. Almost confrontational.

One board member, quiet for the first 45 minutes, finally piped up and asked, “How many board members have been down to volunteer at our after school program? How many have taken the time to have lunch with one of our graduates?”

Only one had.

She then said,

“As a board, all we need to do is each take one hour and do one of those things. After sitting with Margaret [a now successful alum of the program]

I can tell anyone MY STORY. How I WAS MOVED. The IMPACT of meeting Margaret.

I may not yet be a great fundraiser but I’ll sit with anyone and tell MY STORY.”

We work with boards and leadership every week. We have a lot of frameworks for story/message… I think we’re pretty good phenomenal at getting clarity and coaching around each of these points.

Those questions… that leadership… that simplicity… were probably betting than anything I could’ve offered that night.

Worth noting: I don’t think this is purely a ‘board issue’.