The NIRSA Foundation Board of Directors traveled to Oregon in early June for its second annual orientation and face-to-face spring Board meetings.
NIRSA Foundation President Deb Johnson, RCRSP, and new NIRSA Foundation Board members Brent Harrison, Liz Henry, and Shomari Kee kicked off the week in Eugene on June 3 with a tour of the University of Oregon’s Student Recreation Center, which received the NIRSA Outstanding Facilities Award in 2016 for the facility’s expansion and renovation. Visiting Eugene had the added bonus of giving Board members a sense of the everyday lives of NIRSA Headquarters staff as several staff members, including NIRSA Executive Director Pam Watts, live in Eugene and commute to NIRSA HQ in Corvallis.
Orientation at HQ from June 4-5 focused on developing an understanding of NIRSA Foundation history and trajectory, learning the ins and outs of governance and NIRSA leadership structures, and building relationships with NIRSA HQ staff. The Board members met with each HQ department to introduce themselves and hear the goals and duties of each team.
“Having the opportunity to meet the NIRSA HQ staff and learn what they do every day for the NIRSA family was so eye opening,” Liz says. “I wish more NIRSA members could meet this amazing group of professionals who really care about the success of the organization and the advocacy of our profession.”
Shomari echoed Liz’s sentiment, noting that “Being able to meet the people behind the scenes was huge for us new folks.”
The group then headed up to Portland and met the rest of the Board for two full days of face-to-face Board meetings June 6-7. NIRSA Foundation staff enlisted the guidance of Amy Vargo of Varga Consulting, LLC, a local fundraising consultant, to empower and orient the Board members regarding strategies for fundraising and donor stewardship.
“Our goal is to help the Association truly understand what the role of the NIRSA Foundation Board is and what it means to our members,” Deb says. “Personally, I am most excited about the team of people we have on our Board of Directors and the deep passion each person has for the people in our organization. We are here to serve and want to hear from our members and learn more about them individually. We want to know you and why you are so passionate about campus recreation and the work we do.”
The Board also used its in-person meeting to discuss committee appointments and draft work plans and goals for its annual and ongoing campaigns and appeals, Annual Conference activities for 2019 and 2020, scholarships and travel stipends program, marketing campaigns, and donor stewardship strategies.
“The goal setting, creative brainstorming, and group activities allowed all of us to be engaged, work together, share and listen to different perspectives, and truly grow as a Board without other distractions,” Liz says.
NIRSA Foundation President-elect Janice DeMonsi agrees that meeting face-to-face offers a unique opportunity to drill down on the work that would otherwise “have taken so many video calls.”
“I am excited about the energy and ideas that came out of the Board meetings,” Janice continues. “We have set some pretty ambitious fundraising goals for the next year to help elevate the new Strategic Plan.”
The Board identified strategic priorities regarding member outreach, fundraising and stewardship initiatives, and donor segmentation.
“After this experience, not only do I feel I’m working with people who have shared values, I’m excited that we all are focused on how best to engage NIRSA members and give them the information they need to be informed about the NIRSA Foundation,” Shomari says.
The Board members left the week excited for the year ahead and prepared to serve the NIRSA family.
“I’m really excited to connect with the younger members of NIRSA and tell our story with the hope of building a culture of giving that will continue to support scholarships, research, and personal and professional development,” Brent says.