New readers are most often 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 thanked. Let’s rectify that right now!
Board members work hard, for 5-10 hours a month, for two to three year stints, for free. Thanking them for that alone would be an excellent use of gratitude.
The “how” to thank them is sometimes a bit trickier. Just like donors, the question always comes back to “how do they like to be acknowledged and appreciated?”
Some board members want to see their name in lights. Some do not. Some will be very pleased with a personal note from the person in the organization to whom they’re closest. Some would not find that sufficient. Some would like an award or a plaque. Some would not. Some love things with the agency name on it. Some think it’s a waste of agency resources.
Board members, most of whom are also donors, should be appreciated in whatever manner they prefer which means you need to know them well enough to know what that manner is.
We once had a few of the kids from my Club (Boys & Girls Clubs of the Western Reserve) call each Board member and personally tell them why they loved the Club and thank them for serving on the Board. One of the Directors loved the message so much that he kept it. I fully expect one of the girls who made those calls – and continued to ask us for weeks if she could do it again – to become a Development or Executive Director some day.
We’ve also had kids (who wanted to) write thank you notes. In fact, I just got a very similar note myself in the mail from the Boys & Girls Clubs of Columbus. It’s sitting on my desk right now!
I’ve written gratitude cards to members of my Board (staff too) outlining why I appreciate them and how they contribute to our organization’s success. I’ve always tried to treat my Board members like donors… plus!
Whatever your donors get your Board should also get, assuming they are donating at the same levels (and at least some of them should be).
Have a lunch, dinner or cocktail party just to say thank you.
Acknowledge your Board on the organization’s website, letterhead and at every opportunity.
Crate an internal award process for the Board Member of the Year. Consider having a staff award as well.
Use your Linked In, Twitter or (the organization’s) Facebook account to post or tweet every time one of them gets a promotion, wins an award or has a happy something to share!
Nominate one of them for an award. Most communities have awards of some sort; find out what awards are available in your community and nominate your most dedicated Board member. AFP, the Chamber of Commerce or the Community Foundation are good places to start.
You could also write an Op-Ed piece or a Letter to the Editor bragging about the contributions of your Board. (Image the future Board members that will intrigue!)
If you have a long time dedicated Board member, consider naming something after them. It doesn’t have to be a building, or a room – though it could be – it could also be a program, activity or event.
Give certificates for Board service at the end of terms as well as a plaque or other gift for those who serve as Chair. Committee members would appreciate the same recognition. I once heard an Exec say that a former committee member was frustrated because he never thanked her, which he implied was unreasonable. People working for your organization and helping you move your mission forward deserve your appreciation, or at a minimum your acknowledgement. On their behalf, I ask you to please find a way to express it.
There are lots of things you can do to show your appreciation. Find one. Find many. Say thank you! You’ll be glad you did- and your volunteers will be that much more likely to say yes the next time you call.
What have you done to thank your Board members? As always, I welcome your insight, feedback and experience. If you have other ideas for thanking board members, or suggestions for blog topics, please share. A rising tide raises all boats.