Written by: Thyonne Gordon, Ph.D.
AABLI alumna, Class #3
March Madness is one of the biggest, most exciting and entertaining events in all of sports. Sixty-eight teams compete in seven rounds for the national championship. The final four go up against each other to arrive at a reigning winner. Why is March Madness such an exhilarating competition? My guess is because it’s an opportunity to showcase young college players for the ultimate prize: the NBA.
It doesn’t, however, start on the court. March Madness begins with preparation and working the net on and off the court.
The nonprofit world can learn a lot from the March Madness way of working the net. Review these March Madness terms to set your organization up for ways to work your board net!
- Automatic Bid happens in Division One, where winning teams from 32 conferences automatically earn their trips to the NCAA tournament. When scouting for board members, it’s important to be on “automatic mode.” This means having at the ready your requirements, job description and process. When you meet an “A” player, be ready to ask. This means preparation in knowing your qualifying standards. As you meet potentials who meet the needs of the organization, an Automatic Bid process would allow you to smoothly escort them in. Use this March Madness preparation feature to find and recruit.
- The term Seed determines where the team will be placed in the NCAA bracket. Use the idea of seeding to rank what seats need to be filled on your board. Consider creating a grid of needs that might include ethnicity, age, profession, geography and other elements important for your board mix. Once you know what your board needs, you can network with the right people to fill those needs.
- Selection Sunday is the day everyone listens with keen anticipation for the tournament field. Make your board recruitment process just as exciting. New board members should be brought on with a celebration and an orientation. This is board planning at its best for people with whom you will work for a long period of time. Escorting in a new member with a kind of Selection Sunday celebratory energy brings new networking opportunities.
- During the March Madness games, a one-page Team Sheet gives in-depth team information on each player. What if you had a one-sheet for your board highlighting its successes and strengths? A tool like this will go a long way toward utilizing your board effectively and in recruiting future board members.
- Once you have your board functioning as a team, be sure to evaluate its efforts. The Strength of Record is a measure of team accomplishment in the NCAA. How do you measure your board’s performance? Board self evaluations, in which members can assess how they participate, are good tools to use after every meeting. Find other ways to measure the strength of your board to assure that you are always working the board net for solid participation.
These March Madness terms relate very well to the nonprofit world. They give us a way to see our boards from a different perspective. Try looking outside the box with your board to create even more engagement. Indulge in a bit of March Madness; shake things up a little and keep your board’s game plan fresh and innovative.
Thyonne Gordon, Ph.D., AABLI Class #3, is an accomplished organizational & human development expert, writer and producer.
Dr. Gordon contributes to the Antioch College Non-Profit Management Graduate Program as an Adjunct Professor. Her work with small businesses has empowered hundreds of organizations nationwide with growth platforms using her proven technique of the S.T.O.R.Y. Accelerator™.