Trustee engagement

From AwesomeWiki

How do we keep our trustees excited and engaged?


Meeting with grant winners engages trustees and connects them to the projects they're funding. Having a regular structure with people signed on to it makes things easier, and for meetings it makes people more likely to be able to attend. Similarly, Food collects money in $300 chunks to make operations roll smoother, given their virtual distributed nature.

Having entertaining, unique events means more people continually attend and celebrating "wins" leads to continued engagement. In some places the previous winner also sits in on next round and votes.

Group size

Boston has 26 members, so about 10-14 show up each time and vote on two grants. Halifax has 30 members, and does three cycles (first and finalist selection, judging a live event, one set off) with 10 people, so everyone plays a role somewhere in the funnel. Seattle rotates guest trustees in and out, with 10-12 people at each meeting, and uses the extra money as operating expenses (parties, supplies, etc.).

A bigger organization makes closeness in a big group harder. You become a bit more of a blob and a bit less of a "team". A bigger group means lower commitment and less connection. It's important to balance!


In SF, forming personal relationships between the trustees has helped sustain things. In Pittsburgh, meetings are very inefficient, because they're basically social events. Wine, beer, and food slow down the voting, in a good way, and no virtual call ins are allowed. Conversely, Food is all virtual, so people don't know each other irl, but they still have lively discussions. The most important thing is setting norms and getting new people in; when they know what they're signing up for it leads to better cohesion with new members.

New Blood

Boston let about 10 people in at once. It may have "saved the chapter". New York had a big turnover all at once, as the original trustees got too busy or too famous. Bringing in new blood changed the culture and established new norms. On strategy is to set norms with the active people, then invite more people to 'soft replace' the flakier people.

Having more people spreads responsibility and gets you more money to utilize. Guest/honorary trustees (like the mayor!) are a good source of fresh excitement. New people also give busy people the opportunity to back out gracefully since they're not letting people down.

Ideological Splits

The most common major split seems to be between "silent awesome" and "go for fame". Detroit once reconvened to overturn a grant because one trustee decided the selected project didn't set the right tone for the group. Don't be afraid to speak up after decisions are made, but be diplomatic and sensitive when communicating like this.