Don’t Propose Until You’re Ready

| by Bert Armstrong

I’ve been blessed with a wonderful wife for the past twenty-one years.  My family and friends adore her and many of them were frustrated with the fact that it took more than four years of courtship before I popped the question.  Some think it took me that long to convince my wife that I was a good catch.  Others thought I was afraid of commitment.  Maybe it was a little of both.

Our blogs this month focus on the important issue of board development.  So why, you ask, do we start out with a story about marriage?  While very different, there are some interesting similarities surrounding the courtship that takes place – or should take place.  Before any organization and their prospective board member decide to join forces, both sides should take inventory of their needs and of the things they offer each other in the relationship.  It gives the board member the chance to understand and embrace the mission and vision of the entity they are being asked to help govern.  It also offers them a chance to understand what kind of commitment is expected of them.  The courtship offers the organization time to understand the board member’s interests, skills, motivations for serving, and their likely commitment level.  Simply put, the courtship allows both sides time to determine if the “fit” is right.  As with any good marriage, it is better to figure this out before you say "I Do!"

What are some strategies you have used in cultivating potential board members, or in your experience being recruited to serve?  Join the conversation and share some of your stories.

Bert Armstrong is a co-founder and principal of Armstrong McGuire & Associates. 


  1. Elsie Litrom, CFRE's avatar
    Elsie Litrom, CFRE
    | Permalink
    <p>Agreed. Too many organizations are deperate to fill board positions and are not entirely upfront with what is expected because they are afraid they will scare a "good candidate" away. Years ago I worked with an organization in Houston and we practiced the "three Gs" -- Give, Get, or Get Off. Each board member was expected to give or get $2,000 annually, purchase some level of season tickets AND attend the annual fundraising event. Some made personal gifts; others solicited gifts in this amount and more from friends, corporations etc. There were exceptions,it was a performing arts organization and we wanted artisitc expertise. But even those who couldn't make outright gifts contributed by hosting smaller fundraising gatherings. We were very clear about the expectations and had a sort of :job description" that was shared with all prospective board members. It worked beautifully. We has about 98% of our board who actually fulfilled their commitment, and the few who did not, usually decided the organization was not for them before they had to be asked to leave.</p>

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