Associations: How to Get the Board Buy-In on Education Programs

The thought of facing the board may be one that inspires intimidation, anxiety, or even discouragement. If you feel any of these distressing emotions, then that means that you’re aware of the struggle involved in not only presenting a proposal but also getting the board to take action.

Often, you have to grapple with priorities that may not give enough space for the project you have planned. Always, you have to consider things from the business perspective or ask yourself what the board needs to approve the budget you’re asking for, especially considering anything else that may be taking a cut from your organization’s finances.
Despite the challenges you may face in interacting with the board alone, your commitment to your members’ education and professional development should be enough of a driving force.

Getting the board to buy into any of your education programs doesn’t have to be such an insurmountable task.

After all, the business landscape has recognized the value of education.

If the thought of getting the board to approve of your training and education program still gives you a little anxiety, then maybe we can help with that. Here are five things you need to consider so that you can stand in front of the board with confidence and intention:

Think about the vision.

Before presenting anything to the board, you will first have to think about the association’s vision.

Consider the goals that they’re working towards and determine how your proposal fits in with that or contributes to it.

Ultimately, the board will prioritize projects that fit the goals of the association, and so, you’ll have to make sure that your program aligns with the mission and vision of its leaders.

You might say that having a training and education program fundamentally supports the members, which is the primary role of associations. You might also say that your project encourages and promotes professional growth.

Think about the membership.

Your proposed training and education program should also add value to the membership.

This step is particularly significant as it appeals to the board’s drive to reap significant ROI.

How does your program enrich the experiences of the members?

How can it justify any changes in the membership fees?

How do you think the members will react?

Essentially, you have to ensure that it adds value and that it complements the other benefits that your association membership packages offer. If you think the expenses might not give you an ROI that can sustain your education program, then we’d suggest looking into courses you can offer at no cost to your association, such as the GoalMakers business management program.

Think about the message.

Going into a board meeting, you should be prepared enough to know how you want to impart the message. Consider what kind of impact you want to make to not only grab the attention of the board but also get them to take action.

Think about how you can hammer the message in without going overboard. Strike a balance between appealing to the board and standing firm in the message you want to communicate.

In crafting your message, make sure that it’s brief, relevant, and professional.

Be ready with all the data you need to get your message across.

Think about the delivery.

The real fear of presenting in front of a board is that they will miss the message no matter how much you’ve prepared for it. To prevent this from happening, you need to plan your delivery.

Inspire a sense of urgency so that the board is less likely to place your proposed program in the back burner.

Establish that there is a real need to offer education to your members. Internalize the message you want to communicate.

Aside from these basic tips, you might also want to get to know the board so that you can determine how best to communicate with them effectively and efficiently.

Think about the people.

Beyond presenting relevant and realistic data, conviction is a necessary element of any board presentation.

As you work through delivering the message, keep in mind the people that will benefit from your education program.

Your members, your relationship with your partners, and your leaders – these are only some of the people that a good training and education program can positively impact.

Circle back to the association’s vision and use it to further emphasize the long-term benefits of having education in your organization.
Without a doubt, education has become the priority of the business landscape. This is a common fact and one that you can use to get the board's buy-in for your education programs.

So, calm down and take a deep breath.
Presenting in front of a board shouldn’t be so anxiety-inducing if you know what you’re talking about, how you’re going to talk about it, and who you’re talking to.