The Client and the Problem

Megan Gray had recently been hired as the Coordinator for Development and Alumni Engagement at Northern Arizona University (NAU). NAU is a public university serving over 30,000 students in Flagstaff, Arizona.

Megan was directed to lead the first-ever “Giving Day” event for NAU. Giving Days are 24-hour online fundraising challenges that aim to rally groups of people around a particular region, cause, event, or university. In order to plan the event in the spring of 2019, Megan needed to form a cross-department team and coordinate both a steering committee as well as oversee several sub-committees. Giving Day planning began more than nine months prior to the selected date of May 1, 2019.

An organized, planning-oriented person, Megan was ready in many ways for the challenge that lay before her. However, the one aspect she felt unprepared for was how to lead so many meetings in a way that made the best use of people’s time and the greatest amount of engagement. This was very important because Giving Day was likely to become an annual event and it was important to build a strong foundation of support from all of the staff, alumni, and students who would ultimately determine if this event was a success.

Megan knew me from the NAU community and knew that I worked as a facilitator, but she didn’t know exactly what I did or how I might be able to help her.

What We Did

We set up a coffee date to chat about her project. In that first meeting, I shared a few ideas about meeting design. Megan told me that I was already giving her great ideas and helping her be better prepared to lead the first committee meeting. 

It was clear to me that for this project it was important to keep Megan at the helm of the meetings. She was establishing herself as a leader in this project and was building relationships with all of the people in attendance. Therefore, the solution I proposed was to meet with Megan every six weeks or so to plan for her next steering committee meeting and to debrief any questions or concerns she had regarding preparation for and leading the meetings. 

We covered topics such as: how to ensure everyone in the large meetings (40 people or more) would have a way to contribute ideas, how to show respect for and manage a leader who had a lot of experience but was bringing negative energy to the meetings, and how to delegate tasks during the meeting in a way that made people feel involved and valued while also creating a more productive meeting. I also provided her with resources, such as the Meeting Design Template and assessed her strengths in the different roles required of a meeting facilitator.

In addition to meeting with Megan privately between meetings, I also attended and observed three meetings. I sat in on the meeting to take notes and be able to observe Megan in action so that I could offer more specific feedback and advice. Not only was I able to notice things that Megan couldn’t from the front of the room, but I was also able to listen in before and after the meeting and was excited to share with her all of the positive comments that attendees had about the progress the committee was making.

The Results

By our last meeting together, I had already noticed a significant change in Megan. Megan gained confidence in leading the meetings and showed great skill in leading productive meetings. The Steering Committee respected her and expressed their appreciation of how she had led this process. Unsolicited, members of the team would come up to me and tell me how great she was doing and how appreciative they were of these meetings and the process we had gone through together. Megan was recently promoted to Assistant Director.

The first NAU Giving Day surpassed expectations -1,169 donors raised $282,573 in 24 hours for the University! One of the major goals of Giving Day was to engage first-time donors. They hit that goal out of the park with 441 first-time donors. All nine alumni chapters participated and $96,155 in matching dollars was activated. NAU was very satisfied with these results.

Do Good, Be Good Facilitation & Coaching

I am a skilled and experienced facilitator who specializes in process facilitation. Depending on your needs, I can provide coaching in process facilitation (like I did for Megan), or I can serve as a neutral facilitator for your group. I work with groups for a period of months as they work through a planning process or I am brought in to facilitate a large meeting, such as an employee retreat. In all cases, my work helps a group reach their intended outcome by designing a process that enables the greatest amount of engagement and reaches the best possible outcome. Click on the contact tab in the upper right corner of this page to send me an inquiry or question.

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