By Hannah Carvalho for Associations Now
Every board wants to feel like they understand the association’s members and their needs. But that’s not always easy, especially since every organization is composed of members with different viewpoints and backgrounds.
“The board wants to understand the wishes of the membership and feel like they are connected,” said John Segota, CAE, executive director of the National Association for Gifted Children (NAGC). “The board feels it’s part of their stewardship responsibility to be responsive to members.”
Though the board might believe it knows what members want, associations can often do more to help board members gather direct feedback from different voices and outlets, instead of relying on anecdotal information.
Segota shared how NAGC uses a variety of platforms, holds virtual town halls, and encourages conversation during in-person events to help its board better understand the needs of the broader membership and promote transparency.
Segota recommends associations take a holistic approach to communication and use multiple tools to listen and collect feedback.
“We have some members who are very engaged online but may not come to our convention regularly and vice versa,” he said. “You want to gather input from different voices and diverse audiences.”
For example, an online community can be a great space to initiate communication between the board and members. It will also help board members learn about member concerns.
“Boards can lead by example by actively engaging in discussions,” Segota said. “This can enhance their visibility among the membership and demonstrate that the board is making efforts to connect with members.”
A blog can also help boards share information and gain insight from members. When Segota’s former association was undergoing a governance review, a taskforce that was collecting information and reporting to the board also posted information on the association’s blog and encouraged members to share feedback in the comments.
“We did this to create transparency and interaction, so all members had a chance to see what was going on and give feedback that everyone could see,” Segota said.
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