I have been busy facilitating two Women’s Business Network task forces recently: the WBN Charity of Choice, and the Businesswoman of the Year Awards Gala. These task forces are an effective way to engage membership, and volunteers in a time-sensitive way.

If you sit on a volunteer not-for-profit board, consider bringing a ‘task force’ approach to your next board challenge.

What’s a task force? It’s a group of people – a mixture of volunteers, staff and/or membership who come together to address a specific challenge the organization is having. They are mandated to make recommendations and suggestions for change.

Who did we invite on our WBN task force journey? We kept the groups small to make sure everyone is able to participate – somewhere between 4 and 6 people. We included staff – Susan Dagg Fulton our Executive Director – and WBN members. We were sure to include older members and newer members so we could collect all voices for our journey. Task forces are attractive to participants because they are:

  • Finite – They involve a specific number of meetings, and a short-term commitment;
  • Specific – Volunteers have the opportunity to ‘get closer’ to the organization without having to sit on a board.
  • Outcome-driven – There is nothing like that feeling of getting something done to charge up a volunteer. With the right mandate, task forces can be empowered to really clean things up.

Examples of task forces and their mandates:

  • WBN Charity of Choice – We were mandated to choose a charity of choice for WBN. We explored all charities in Ottawa that reflected the WBN brand, created a short-list of 3 charities, met with the charities to determine whether we were a good fit for each other, and decided on our WBN charity of choice.
  • Businesswoman of the Year Awards (BYA) Gala event -We are currently working through the BYA Gala processes to determine if we can do a better job of 1) attracting top notch nominees 2) streamlining the application process 3) delivering an exceptional Gala event . We are working with a group of ladies who represent the nominations committee and the gala committee. Together, we are learning about the BYA process, and how we want to work together towards our common goal: celebrating the WBN Businesswomen of the Year winners!

My role as a facilitator is to help all these voices work together towards a common goal. I am part administrator, part leadership coach, and sometimes part psychologist!

Facilitating is one of the most rewarding things I do at Chavender: I engage people in a meaningful way to find a path to the right outcome for their organization.

Do you have an organization or a board that is stuck? Consider hiring an outside facilitator like me to help you get unstuck!