The members of your board of directors are not just donors. They’re people, too. They didn’t join your nonprofit’s board to ask their friends and family for money, but because they care about your mission. While they are on the inside, they still need to know they are valued and making a difference.
Here are seven ways to help your board feel appreciated and involved:
1. Public Recognition
This type of appreciation can be done in many ways. One way is to feature a different board member profile in each of your nonprofit’s newsletters, giving your donors insight as to who is helping to run your organization. Another is to have a section of your website dedicated to information about your board members. Public recognition can also be done in person. When you host a special event, you could bring attention to your board by taking the time to publicly introduce any members who are in attendance.
2. Thank-you event/retreat
Every year you should be treating your board to a thank-you event or retreat. Your board works hard for your organization and that hard work should be rewarded with a time to relax together without focusing on business. While business-focused board retreats are a good way to discuss important matters in-depth, it’s critical to also give down time to your board members so that they can bond on a personal level. Remember, boards are teams and people on teams must have respectful relationships with one other in order to work well together and make effective decisions.
3. Listen and Act
Verbally agreeing with your board members on an idea in a meeting is different than actually acting on it. Don’t just talk the talk—walk the walk. Keep a list of ideas that your board members come up with at meetings and revisit it on a regular basis to see if something can be implemented or voted on. This shows board members that their efforts and ideas are being valued, which will encourage their interest in their assignments and your organization.
4. Nominate them for awards
Each month (or year) there should be nominations for outstanding board members for leadership awards within your nonprofit. With the award, include a detailed summary of the accomplishments of the board member and how they have really gone the extra mile to help your nonprofit.
You could also choose to nominate your board members for awards that are outside of your organization. This will not only show your board members that you appreciate them, but also get your organization’s name and mission out there.
Check in with your board members individually before or after meetings to gauge how they are feeling about the organization and learn about their personal goals for your cause. Showing individualized care makes your board members feel important and valued, and it also gives more introverted board members the ability to talk in a more personal setting where they might feel more comfortable bringing up difficult issues.
Also use these check-in calls as a way to praise and encourage. If you noticed that a certain board member was an integral part of the success of a recent meeting, be sure to acknowledge that as part of the call.
6. Remember special days
You (hopefully!) do it for donors, so why not do it for your board members as well? Send them cards on their birthdays as well as the anniversary of their joining your organization.
7. Send a thank-you note
How often you send notes is up to you, but make them as personal as possible. Call out specific things that a board member has done for your organization and why you appreciate his/her hard work and dedication. As always, be heartfelt and sincere.
Brian Lauterbach, CFRE, is a vice president at Network for Good.