Dani Robbins

Posts Tagged ‘how to thank board members’

Thank You Board Members!

In Leadership, Non Profit Boards on September 9, 2013 at 8:30 am

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.

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.

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