a view from the Board Side ‘Working together —as a team’
Dick Hagerty, Advisory board Member
Tension between officers and advisory board members can be a real hindrance to the effective work and image of our Salvation Army work on the local level. Too often we see officers resisting assistance and input from board members, and board members that mistrust the power and authority of their officer staff.
While some of this tension may be natural, it need not fester and interfere with the relationships and work of the local team. And, indeed it is a team. Our effectiveness will be directly measured by our ability to work seamlessly together, without letting egos or emotions hinder our work.
It all starts with communication. Effective board members make regular phone calls, emails and visits to the officer. Not just “checking up” on programs, but simply staying in touch, making sure that the officer’s needs are being met. These needs may be related to the work of the Army, or they may be of a personal nature. The board needs to be ready and willing to help on both fronts.
Officers generally greatly appreciate frequent, brief visits to the corps by board members. These need not be formal. I often stop by and take a moment just to chat. If the captain has time then we delve into greater issues, if not then a quick greeting and I’m on my way.
Communication is critical when it comes to any and all community program issues. The same applies to any unusual fundraising strategies. Capital acquisitions and program commitments must be addressed early on.
If the board has no prior knowledge of newly acquired properties, it will find it difficult to generate enthusiasm to find funding for such new assets. Likewise, potential programs must be fully explored as to need, effectiveness and funding sources by the officer and board, planning together. We utilize a program committee that regularly meets with the officer, focuses on one of our existing programs and fully evaluates its real cost and its actual impact upon the community. This has been an invaluable tool for efficient operation.
Meeting agendas must be prepared together, not simply by the officer or staff. This meeting actually belongs to the board, but mutual input is critical. In the same manner, the officer cannot dominate the meeting (nor should the chairman). The board meeting is an opportunity for all to be heard and involved. Inevitably, an agenda created by staff will omit some important item that needs consideration.
Advisory Board Sunday at the corps is a wonderful way for both sides to bond and jointly celebrate the faith ministry of the Army. Board, council and auxiliary should be encouraged to attend this annual event. These members may be called upon to read Scripture, lead prayer or even lead a congregational song. While it would be tempting to ask a board member to deliver the sermon, this is the perfect opportunity for the board to experience the ministry of the officer. In cases where the officer will be absent on a regular Sunday, it is highly appropriate to ask a qualified board member to preach.
Here is the goal we all need to work toward: a seamless and effective partnership, working together to “Do the Most Good.”
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