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ASU Lodestar Center Blog

The Shocking Truth About Your Board Members Serving as Ambassadors

Let me guess. You need your volunteers to spread the word about your good work, to connect you with their networks and generally be the amazing gatekeepers to the community you know they can be.

And, they seem willing. However,…very little is happening. What the heck? Are they trying to make you miserable? Do they not care about your mission after all? What can you do to change this?

First, check your mindset and think about how you’re thinking about your board. They have good intentions and are NOT trying to ruin your day. Nevertheless, there is a disconnect somewhere so let’s try to figure it out.

Here’s the truth about why your board members aren’t actively serving as community ambassadors:

  • They don’t know what that specifically means
  • They are motivated, but don’t have everything they need to start
  • They don’t understand why they need to do so

It’s time to figure this out and facilitate their success so you aren’t frustrated. Here are three ways to support your volunteers so your amazing team of confident ambassadors raise awareness for your cause:

  • Start with why. This will be critical for a successful team of ambassadors – they need to understand why this matters and what the desired result is. Are you trying to recruit board members? Do you need to secure more donors? Do you want to be sure everyone who may need your services knows about you? Is there a new geographic area you’re trying to break into? Do you need event volunteers? Are you trying to elevate brand awareness?

Why do you need them to be ambassadors? Your answer may be different at various times.  You may have folks who are better positioned to help you with one goal over another. Be strategic and clear about your objectives.

  • Share these 10 ways they can serve as ambassadors and talk to each person about what they would be most comfortable committing to. Moreover, if you have a few volunteers who have already done this work successfully, have them share their stories and reassure others it’s possible. The key here is to remember everyone is different and must be treated as individuals with unique talents.
    • Speak publicly to community groups, service clubs, etc.
    • Serve as a social media ambassador and post/share a message on social media twice a month (don’t forget LinkedIn!)
    • Volunteer at a community event and represent your organization
    • Invite guests to your next event
    • Host a reception (e.g. dinner, happy hour, etc. at home or business) as an opportunity to tell your organization’s story (staff attends to assist)
    • Join the Executive Director at meetings with elected officials
    • Make thank you calls to donors
    • Invite friends and colleagues for a tour
    • Forward the newsletter to members of their network who care about your mission
    • Invite staff to present at a brown bag lunch at their office
  • Once everyone has committed to at least one action they will take, ask them what they need.  Do they need talking points or slide deck? Do they need a calendar of events? Do they want to practice with you first before they get started? Do they need a social media tutorial?

Remember, they have good intentions and you play a key role in facilitating their success!  The relationship between board members and staff doesn’t have to be tricky. The shared leadership model can result in more money coming in, more people on your team and increased community awareness. When you invest in their development, your board will rise to the occasion!

And if you need to expand your board to get the results you want, take a look at this free guide:  28 Places to find New Board Members.

Cindi spent many years as a nonprofit professional, 18 of those as a YMCA Executive Director.  She has successfully led boards and staff teams to navigate their toughest hurdles.  At Create Possibility, she is a fierce advocate for nonprofit leaders across the U.S. so they can build stronger boards and reach their goals faster.  Learn more about her work now at 


ASU Lodestar Center Blog