Training Board Members As Social Media Ambassadors | Beth's Blog

Training Board Members As Social Media Ambassadors

Instructional Design, Leadership, Networked Nonprofit, Social Media Policy

Note from Beth: Last month, I facilitated a workshop for the Knight Digital Media Learning Seminar in Miami on “Leading on Social Media.”  It was an interactive workshop and the content was on how to leverage senior leaders, board, and staff as champions on social channels.     Rachel Calderon, Marketing and Communications Manager, Central Florida Foundation was a workshop participant and after the workshop we brainstormed a design for training her board members to be champions.    She agreed to write up her process and experience – and especially grateful as I’m in London now teaching the same topic.  So, expect more from me soon.

Training Board Members As Brand Champions on Social and Beyond
Guest Post By: Rachel Calderon

Recently, I had the opportunity to share with Central Florida Foundation’s board of directors about where the Foundation is headed when it comes to marketing and communications. The challenge is that many of the board members only know the Foundation through the door they came through and they are not comfortable explaining what the Foundation does in general. The goal for the conversation was that board members would leave the meeting feeling more comfortable talking about the Foundation in a way that makes sense to them, while honoring our brand.

The discussion started with each board member writing their personal passions on sticky notes. As everyone finished, they brought them up to the flip chart. Everyone had quite a few to share. It was a perfect opportunity for the group to learn more about each other and to see each other’s similarities and differences. Some of the passions written were arts, education, animals, domestic violence, dance, family, health and wellness, abused children, boy scouts, environment and many others.

After we read through some of the responses and made some observations, we moved onto the next exercise. I asked each of the board members to take a few minutes and share their one burning question that pertains to the Foundation’s marketing and communications with the person sitting next to them. Then one person from each of the pairs shared with the group.  The questions included:

  • Who in the community knows what Central Florida Foundation does?
  • How are we involved?
  • How come more people don’t know what we do and why?
  • How do we reach influencers in specific industries?

I wasn’t surprised by most of the questions and was glad that the group was open and honest. I let them know that most of these questions would be addressed today.

Next, I shared with the group what I love about my job at Central Florida Foundation. I shared that I have the opportunity to figure out ways to help people understand the work that we do and why it’s important. I get to use my brain to think and figure things out. That seems like a silly thing to say, but I get to take creative license often. I’m able to help make something that comes across in a complicated way into something simple. Simply put, I can rest my head soundly at night knowing that the work I do makes a difference.

Then I asked everyone to take a few minutes to write again on the sticky notes, this time about things they like about the Foundation. Some of the responses included:

  • Community Impact versus singular impact
  • Innovations like EIA (Entrepreneurs in Action)
  • Vision for improving the community
  • Student-led grant committee program with University of Central Florida
  • Challenge nonprofits to grow and strengthen
  • Mark’s Vocabulary (Our CEO)
  • Meghan Warrick (Our CFO)
  • Education about philanthropy
  • Professional services for donors and nonprofits
  • Open to innovation and creativity

It was great to hear all of the things that everyone likes about the Foundation and see how they all fit together. There are so many things to love.

Next, I reminded the group of the rebrand the Foundation went through a couple of years ago. We asked a lot of questions to a lot of people to find out what they think. We found that many people only understand a small part of the Foundation based off of their experiences to date, but they don’t understand the big picture. The truth is we do so many things, but it doesn’t need to be complicated to talk about the Foundation as a whole.

On this note, I walked the group through our updated brand guide which includes our mission statement, brand promise, brand positioning statement and core brand language. I was able to reiterate how the brand guidelines drive everything we do at the Foundation and how to use each of the components.

Through the three exercises and brand discussion, I wanted to show everyone that they can use their personal connection to the Foundation, combined with our brand language, to effectively tell its story. I made the connection that everyone on the board is a champion for the work that happens at CFF and that we can’t get past the point we are at now without their help. We talked about how it’s important to share their personal connection to the work they’re doing with CFF to be able to speak in a genuine way about the Foundation to those people that don’t know us yet.

To help with this, I created a tool for them to use in conversations about their involvement with CFF. I’ve been calling this new tool a “business card for the Foundation.” It gives just enough information, honors brand language and encourages follow-up on our website or via phone. It’s a tangible item for each board member to hand over to someone who wants to learn more and it doesn’t take a whole lot of explaining. Its small size allows it to fit in a wallet or purse and it’s an easy way to close out a conversation.

Finally, we looked over our social media pages including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and our News and Announcements page on our website. I showed each page and its basic functions. I also mentioned that it’s fun to connect with each other and the community through social media – there is so much to know and learn. I encouraged everyone to follow our pages if they haven’t already and to friend and follow each other. I made the point that if you aren’t online, you’re missing out. This is how information is shared and readily available today.

To sum it all up, and to make it a little fun, I awarded four board members with social media awards for different ways they’ve already been supporting the Foundation online. I used these fun cards to give to the first round of winners.

The awards presented were for the following areas:

  • Jay Chaudhari received an award for actively following our Facebook and Instagram accounts.
  • Dean Michael Frumkin has a Facebook page and liked our page
  • David Torre – I was able to show off David’s LinkedIn profile and how he did a great job of connecting the Foundation to his profile. He also tags us, likes our posts, comments, shares and posts on our Facebook and Twitter accounts
  • Jeff Jonasen likes every single post we put on Facebook

I let them know simply liking posts on Facebook is helpful because it expands the reach of our content to their audiences.

I closed the meeting with thanking everyone for their attention and participation. I offered my assistance at any time for help with social media and let them know there is a lot more to come.

As next steps, I’m working on implementing a social media policy and suggested posts for board members to use online. I also plan to hold a social media workshop for them during this year.

Since the meeting, I’ve set up a LinkedIn profile for Central Florida Foundation and sent all of the board members standard language to include in their profiles about CFF. (This was the one thing I decided I would do as a result of the social media workshop at the Knight Media Learning Seminar I went to earlier in the week).

As a result of the meeting, I’ve seen an increase in online activity from board members and will be looking for ways to see this grow.

Thank you Beth for the helpful tips you provided me to make my presentation more interactive and impactful. I learned so much from the process and feel like I reached a goal of helping the board to see our communications in a more approachable way. I’m looking forward to continuing to work with our board to help them feel more comfortable and empowered to share the message of the Foundation with their networks.

Rachel Calderon is the Marketing & Communications Manager at Central Florida Foundation in Orlando, Florida, the place for people who want to invest in their community. Learn more at



3 Responses

  1. […] was on how to leverage senior leaders, board, and staff as champions on social channels. … Read More Share this:TwitterFacebookGoogleLike this:Like […]

  2. Isaac says:

    Social strategies have really revolutionized the way people live and how they share information

  3. There are many good suggestions here, and I can see an increased use of social media being helpful in solving this problem. I can’t help thinking, though, that sometimes this situation can also stem from the ways board members are recruited. Very many organizations look outside to find new board members because they are people with wealth or connections rather than trying to look to those who are already deeply involved as donors and volunteers. How many organizations ask people who have never been involved to be board members and then decide in a few years that they were disappointments because they never did more than the minimum required for them to be members of the board?