Matty Bowers 2015 Q&A: OTW Culture and Communication, Group 1

How do you plan to engage staff and volunteers in dialogue regarding Board decisions and the direction of the organization? How about the membership?

While I realize the old liaison system was unpractical, I do think Board should be encouraged to meet periodically with chairs to discuss both committee and OTW goals. Board cannot lose touch with committees’ goals, and it’s important to keep open communication in all directions to make sure everyone is always on the same page.

I’d also like to encourage Board members to participate in Office Hours, with each Board member signing up for one week a month. This will allow volunteers and members to interact with Board members informally and give everyone a chance to ask questions and build a relationship with Board.

Talk about one thing a committee you served with did really well and how this taught you something valuable about collaboration in the OTW.

I became Support chair at a difficult time. Not only was the committee itself in a precarious situation, there was severe dissension between many committees and individual volunteers. Trying to navigate such a situation as a new chair was a nightmare. For a while I focused on my own committee, hoping that in the meantime the other issues would resolve themselves. When that didn’t work, I eventually starting reaching out to the other chairs in the hopes we’d find some common ground. Surprising no one, it turned out we all wanted the same thing – healthy committees, happy volunteers, and a functional Board. The details were trickier, but in the end, talking and listening to each other made all the difference.

These days many of the OTW chairs talk on a weekly, if not daily, basis. We generally know how things are going and help each other out as much as we can. We’ve learned how to communicate effectively and it shows in the work we are doing.

I think strengthening the lines of communication between Board and committees is vital. We work better when we are working together towards the same goals.

What are three things you think Board can learn from committees?

  • How to get stuff done.
  • How to get along.
  • How to work together as a team.

What are your thoughts on a more public ‘in person’ presence being established by the Org? How might you see this balanced with the desire and in some cases need for privacy?

I think it would be beneficial for the OTW as a whole to work on our expanding public presence.

While our Communications committee is amazing, it could be helpful to have our Board members also be more proactive about their presence on social media. In most functioning nonprofit Boards, members act as the face of the organization. They help with outreach, fundraising, and boosting awareness of the organization as a whole.

This is likely to be more of a long-term goal for me, though one we should be slowly working towards. At the moment, I feel we need to focus on getting the organization in a more stable place before we turn our attention outwards.