Many articles address the topic of appreciating nonprofit donors but few authors seem to write about saying thank you to board members. Yes, they are generally donors and get thanked for their donations (I hope!). But who thanks them for all the time and talent they bring to an organization? In my experience, this important task belongs to the executive director. Why? Because he or she works with the board regularly, sees first hand all they contribute, and knows how their work helps the nonprofit achieve its mission.
As a former executive director, I know that there is limited time to take on extra tasks but I also know how much board members enjoy sincere appreciation (don’t we all?). Try these three quick and easy ways to thank your board members.
Send a handwritten thank you note
You can do an individual note of appreciation to each member on an annual basis, such as Thanksgiving week. You can also send notes when a board member has done something you especially appreciate such as identified new volunteers, chaired a successful fundraising event, or presented a well researched report at a meeting. Once you start looking for things to appreciate in your board members, you will see how many there are. In this age of emailing and texting, I have found that board members greatly appreciate these handwritten notes.
Do “Three Minute Spotlights”
Make it a habit to begin each board meeting by recognizing one member by talking about what that person has contributed to your nonprofit. You can select a member because that person recently did something extra, like getting an unexpected article in a regional newspaper, bringing ten guests to a special event, or working with staff on a grant proposal. At other times, you may recognize a member who has received a community award or received a promotion at work. If nothing notable has happened recently, do a general appreciation of a board member citing how he or she has helped your organization over the past few months.
Have a “Board Member Spotlight” in your newsletter
Most people like seeing their picture and a complimentary article in print and your newsletter is the perfect place to put one. Make sure that you send an extra copy to people that the honoree would appreciate seeing it (such as the boss of a corporate volunteer). You can save time by basing the article on the “Three Minute Spotlight” noted above.
I know how easy it is to be overwhelmed by the innumerable tasks a busy nonprofit leader faces each day. I also know how much better any nonprofit organization can function when Board members feel truly appreciated for what they do. In the words of Albert Schweitzer, “Nothing that is done for you is a matter of course. Everything originates in a will for the good, which is directed at you. Train yourself never to put off the word or action for the expression of gratitude.”