The Curious Case of the Disappearing Board Member

By Dawn Price, Friendship Shelter

disappearedThe annual golf tournament, the staff felt, had run its course.  Once a major source of funds for the non-profit, it now – in a good year – returned minimal funds despite massive, even Herculean, staff effort.  Twice in the past five years it was rained out entirely.

The staff members had done a comprehensive event cost-benefit analysis using the tools provided by a funder-provided training seminar.  The resulting charts and graphs had been sent to Kinko’s and blown up to poster size, which were precariously balanced on easels borrowed for the occasion from the church where the board held its meetings.

Pizza was ordered.  Bagged salad was tossed with Italian dressing and – because it was a special occasion – croutons.  The executive director baked cookies to endear the board to the staff and help smooth the course to the hoped-for conclusion.  The finance director snuck beer in through a back entrance.

Midway through the meeting the agenda item arrived.  The executive director set the stage.  The development director painstakingly reviewed the data.  The finance director helpfully added her assent, reminding the board that the metrics used to come to this recommendation had been suggested by an important funder.

Heads were nodding – and most not due to drowsiness.  The mood in the room was one of understanding and reason.  The executive assistant looked up from her minutes and dared to allow herself to believe she would not spend the month of June making increasingly desperate reminder calls to former team captains.

And then, from a dark, spooky corner of the room came a booming voice.

“Nonsense!” bellowed Joe Roundtuit, who many had forgotten was on the board due to his frequent absences.  “I attended a golf tournament last week and it raised triple the amount we’ve ever raised.  It was fun and clearly easy to do.  People love golf tournaments!”

“But the staff members have shown that the same amount of effort used in other ways would raise more money and find us new donors,” the board chairperson, who had been prepped in advance, argued.

“I’m not talking about the staff,” the board member insisted.  “We don’t need to depend on the staff to pull off a simple golf tournament!  I’ll lead the effort, and I’ll recruit friends to help!  The staff won’t lift a finger!”

“Wait…” the executive director interjected in a panicked voice…

“So moved!” shouted a second board member.

“But…” the development director stammered…

“Seconded!” cried a third.

“Metrics!… Metrics!…Mehhhh…trics!” choked the finance director.

But thrilled at the prospect of fundraising enthusiasm among her fellows, and mindful that the beer had run out, the chairperson called for a vote. 

The motion passed unanimously…

…and Joe was never heard from again.  Sometimes, late at night during a thunderstorm, people say they can still hear him insisting that he’ll get around to it soon.



Friendship Shelter was founded as a direct response to a community need. Every major strategic decision since then has been rooted in an understanding of and compassion for the community. Going forward, we have a responsibility-as one of Laguna Beach’s oldest and most respected human services organizations-to continually improve our organization and its ability to respond to the community that has brought us so far, and to the homeless individuals who have inspired us in our endeavors. I am confident our best is yet to come.”