Dani Robbins

An Open Letter Board Members I have Known and Loved

In Leadership, Non Profit Boards on May 11, 2013 at 9:14 am

The theme of the nonprofit blog carnival (which is a monthly collection of the best posts on a requested topic) this month is “Dear board volunteer . . .” The idea is to “write an anonymous letter to a nonprofit board about something they do that drives you crazy.”  As you might remember, following directions has not always been my strong suit and I am choosing instead to use this opportunity to say thank you.

Dear Board Members,

Thank you so much for volunteering to serve on my Boards over the years.

I know that for you, it was an “add on” to the many other things that you did, including your career, your family, other volunteer opportunities and your social life.  I appreciate that you were willing to serve and I hope I always valued your time and your input.  Some days you may have felt that more than others. Thank you for knowing it even on the days I failed to express it.

Thank you for knowing that for me, next to my family, my job as Executive Director was my life, my passion and a position I spent my entire career to reach.   It was the culmination of my undergraduate and graduate degrees, previous leadership positions, a variety of training programs, and ample time spent in the trenches.  It was my privilege and my honor; I appreciated that you knew and respected that.

Thank you for knowing that on any given day, I was juggling a multitude of things – programs, donors, staff, facility issues, other Board members, possibly legal issues, client problems, and whatever was going on in my personal life. I know you were thoughtful about the ideas and recommendations you suggested.

Thank you for taking my calls, talking me off ledges and helping me brain storm solutions.  Thank you for taking the time to govern our organization appropriately.

Thank you for not assigning work to my staff and instead working through me.  I know wasn’t always easy or convenient for you to do that and appreciate the respect you had of my leadership and the lines of authority in our organization.  I also am so grateful that when the staff didn’t agree with a decision I made or something I did, you referred them back to me instead of trying to manage the situation.   A lot of other Boards don’t do that (as evidenced by the very public battle between the Executive Director and the Board in one of our partner agencies) – and I appreciate that you did.  Thank you.

Thank you for bringing your passion, intellect, insight, experience and resources to the table. Thank you for challenging me and your fellow Board members. Thank you for not allowing things in our organization that you would not have allowed in your own.  I needed you, and I appreciate that you used all of your experience, skills, knowledge and education to move our organization forward.

Thank you for teaching me, for counseling me, and for holding me accountable.  Thank you letting me learn from my mistakes and creating a safe space for me to improve.  Thank you for giving me the tools to serve our clients, lead our organization and impact change in our community.

A special thank you to a few special board members – and you know who you are and in case you don’t I will send you this post- who individually and collectively impacted my life in ways I cannot express; I will always be grateful.  To each of you and the dozens of Board members with whom I have had the privilege to serve, thank you; thank you for your service, your loyalty, your leadership and your guidance.

I am the leader I am today because of the tools you gave me.  I promise to pay it forward.

Do you want to thank an individual board member? Please use the comment box below.  Upon notification, I will approve appropriate comments and you can forward the page to your board members.  If you are a blogger and would prefer to write an anonymous post, please click here to learn more. As always, I welcome your experience and insight.

  1. […] at Non Profit Evolution, Dani Robbins also penned a love letter to her former board and exclaimed from the mountaintops: “I am the leader I am today because of the tools you […]


  2. […] led to my blog via an internet search about thanking board members.  And while I have written An Open Letter to Board Members I Have Known and Loved, thanking my own Board members, I haven’t written a post on how and why board members should be […]


  3. Thank you for this! I was an early Board member of a non-profit that of course, struggled just to get organized and viable in those early years. I served for eight, was an officer for most of that time, and president for two. While I was able to inspire wonderful ways to thank presenters we brought in for our events, I’m sorry I didn’t institute a protocol for thanking board members. Like all who served, when I had to step down because of illness after eight years, I didn’t even get a verbal thanks for service. I left on very good terms, and have been asked to come back, so I know it’s not in any way due to bad feelings. It’s just a thankless job all too often, and it burns people out when so much of their time and and energy is assumed and not appreciated. I think it’s just thoughtlessness, not malice, and articles like yours can help. Many words here, to say thank you!


  4. […] An Open Letter to Board Members I Have Known and Loved is the most popular post I have ever written, by thousands.  I wrote it to honor several of my Board members, especially Bud Rogers, officially Bruce W. Rogers of Akron Ohio.  He is, for me, the quintessential board member. He is my ideal. I learned more from his grace, his leadership and his generosity that I can ever explain. May he rest in peace. […]


  5. Thank you for the open letter. I work for a non profit and was looking for some help in writing a email to the board members to thank them for all they do!


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