Many articles address the topic of thanking nonprofit donors, but few authors seem to write about thanking board members. Yes, they are generally donors and are thanked for their donations (I hope so!). But who thanks them for all the time and talent they bring to an organization? In my experience, this important task falls to the CEO. Why? Because he or she works with the board regularly, he or she sees firsthand all that they contribute and knows how their work helps the nonprofit achieve its mission.
As a former CEO, I know that time for additional tasks is limited, 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 make an individual thank you note to each member annually, like Thanksgiving week. You can also send notes when a board member has done something you particularly appreciate, such as identifying new volunteers, chairing a successful fundraising event, or presenting a well-informed report at a meeting. Once you start looking for things to appreciate in your board members, you’ll see how many there are. In this age of emails and text messages, I have found that board members really appreciate these handwritten notes.
Do “three-minute spotlights”
Make it a habit to start each board meeting by recognizing a member by talking about what that person has contributed to your nonprofit. You might select a member because that person recently did something extra, like publish an unexpected article in a regional newspaper, bring ten guests to a special event, or work with staff on a grant proposal. At other times, you can recognize a member who has received an award from the community or received a promotion at work. If nothing notable has happened recently, give an overview of a board member and mention how she has helped her organization in the past few months.
Have a “Featured Board Member” in your newsletter
Most people like to see their photo and companion article in print, and your newsletter is the perfect place to put one. Be sure to send an extra copy to people 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 Approach” mentioned above.
I know how easy it is to become overwhelmed by the myriad tasks a busy nonprofit leader faces each day. I also know how much better any nonprofit organization can function when Board members truly feel appreciated for what they do. In the words of Albert Schweitzer, “Nothing that is done for you is a matter of course. Everything originates from a will for good, which is directed to you. Train yourself never to postpone word or action for the expression of gratitude. .”