Your nonprofit’s board is the driving force that makes the organization’s big decisions and delegates mission-centric tasks to staff members and volunteers. Research shows that the average nonprofit board consists of 16 members, who commonly serve 10 hours per month for the duration of their three-year terms. This means board members dedicate around 360 hours of valuable work to your nonprofit—and they should be properly thanked for it!
Because of their crucial role in powering your nonprofit’s mission, it’s important to recognize the hard work board members put into your organization with intentional appreciation efforts. In this guide, we’ll cover board member appreciation basics, including:
- Importance of Board Member Appreciation
- Best Board Member Appreciation Ideas
- How to Thank Board Members Specifically
- When to Thank Board Members
Your organization would be lost without a board to lead it. Let’s start by exploring the importance of showing appreciation.
Importance of Board Member Appreciation
Board members fill a variety of roles, especially if they’ve been there since the beginning of your nonprofit. These individuals don’t just support your organization—they supervise it, plan its operations, and manage its success. Without your board, there would be no nonprofit!
When board members feel recognized and valued by your organization, you’ll see the following benefits:
- Improved culture: Appreciation is a building block of a healthy organizational culture. Valuing board members helps them feel like an important part of your mission and strengthens the bond between your organization and the people who operate it.
- Increased productivity: Research shows that a positive work culture empowers employees to do their best work, and the same can be said for your nonprofit’s board members. Gratitude positively reinforces board members’ hard work, increasing their willingness to work hard and be productive in the future.
- Enhanced reputation: Nonprofits work to enhance social good by nature, so a lack of gratitude starkly contrasts with the purpose of your organization! Showing the same level of care and attention to your board members as you give to constituents shows that your nonprofit is authentic and gives donors the confidence to trust your organization with their contributions.
Aside from being the natural response to such essential work, appreciation can also make board members happier and more willing to continue working with your nonprofit. With these key benefits in mind, let’s explore the most effective ways to share your appreciation!
Best Board Member Appreciation Ideas
The benefits of appreciation are endless, but only if your nonprofit effectively stewards and engages its board members. To get started, create an appreciation plan that defines how and when you’ll show gratitude.
To help you choose which activities to engage in, here are the best board member appreciation ideas for nonprofits.
A card is a classic way to show your appreciation. You can personalize your message, choose a card with a clever design, and include extra bonuses, like gift cards or cash.
But some classic trends are better with a modern twist! 70% of Gen-Z and Millennials prefer digital communication, making virtual platforms an increasingly popular way to share your appreciation. That’s why eCards are the best method for sharing your appreciation—not just with board members, but with anyone.
Make your thank-you messages stand out with eCardWidget’s custom eCard software solution. Using our platform, you can create digital appreciation cards with personalized messages for each board member and fun animations to light up their email inbox. To get started, follow these simple steps:
- Register with eCardWidget: Create an account on the eCardWidget website by providing your name and email address and creating a password.
- Select a template: Choose between a single-page eCard, an envelope-opening animation, and a wide variety of other templates and designs.
- Customize your eCard: Add all the important details, such as the cover image, heading, body text, branding, scheduling, links, and other elements.
- Add it to your website: After designing your card, save it to your website or employee portal for easy access. That way, you can use the card again and again, or even allow board members to send eCards to each other!
For more information about our software, watch the following video:
As the video points out, you can use eCardWidget to create different categories of eCards, such as eCards for personal milestones and team recognition. Over time, you’ll grow your toolkit of eCards with templates for every occasion, allowing you to celebrate board members personally and frequently.
eCards can also be shared on your nonprofit’s board member portal or website for open accessibility. Encourage peer-to-peer appreciation between board members by designing eCards and making them available for others to use. By allowing members to share their appreciation for one another, you’ll continue to strengthen the culture among your nonprofit’s board.
Board member thank-you notes
Whether you put it in an eCard, type out an email, or write a physical letter, thank-you notes can be extremely impactful, especially when they’re personalized. You may have experience in writing thank-you letters for volunteers or donors, but messages to board members will look a little different. Here’s a template to help you get started:
Dear [Board Member’s Name],
I wanted to express my sincere gratitude for your dedication to [Nonprofit’s Name]’s board. This role carries immense responsibility, and you’ve taken on the role with wisdom and integrity.
Thanks to your active participation in the leadership of our organization, we’ve [List an accomplishment your nonprofit has achieved during the board member’s term]. And, when it comes to fulfilling your role on the board, you’ve [List something the board member accomplished, such as networking on behalf of your organization].
As a board member and supporter of [Nonprofit’s Name], you have generously given your time to make tough decisions and act in the best interest of our organization. Thank you for making our mission possible!
I look forward to everything we’ll accomplish together for the duration of your term.
Remember to use this template as a rough outline for your letters of appreciation. Since most boards consist of under 20 members, you should be able to craft individual letters for each board member. Copying and pasting the same letter for every board member lacks the intentionality behind meaningful appreciation efforts, so be sure to write a thank-you note that’s unique to each recipient.
Board member gifts
Gift-giving can be a meaningful and memorable experience for recipients, especially when the gifts are tangible. Show your gratitude with meaningful gifts, such as:
- Gift certificates: Include gift cards to local businesses in your thank-you cards or letters to board members. Be sure to choose a business that resonates with the board member, such as gifting a free meal at their favorite restaurant.
- Branded merchandise: An important part of sharing gratitude is reminding board members of their continued relationship with your nonprofit. Give branded merchandise, such as t-shirts, mugs, or hats as gifts to thank your board members. You may also give items that are relevant to board members’ roles, such as branded pens or binders to hold materials for board meetings.
- Office accessories: Gifts for the office can be both thoughtful and practical, such as new desks, desk chairs, computers, or monitors. By recognizing board members’ hard work with the tools to make their work easier, you’ll show that your nonprofit supports their contributions to your organization.
- A certificate or award: Reward board members for their dedication to your nonprofit with special accolades, such as certificates, trophies, or special privileges. Be sure to mention the board member’s specific contributions when presenting the award to further highlight their significant impact.
The right gift won’t just thank board members the moment they receive it, but it’ll also serve as a daily reminder of your nonprofit’s appreciation. For example, every time your board member drinks from a gifted water bottle, they’ll remember your nonprofit’s appreciation for their work. Likewise, sentimental gifts can be long-lasting mementos of the board member’s involvement and significant impact, even after their term ends.
Which are you more likely to remember: someone telling you the name of an underfunded school, or a short documentary showing the school’s worn textbooks and buildings in need of repair? Visuals are unquestionably an impactful way to get your message across, which is why thank-you videos make a great appreciation idea.
Create a video for a specific committee or team that explains why you appreciate them, the importance of their work, and their indispensability. As you craft your video message, keep nonprofit storytelling best practices in mind, such as:
- Emotional narration: Recruit a well-known leader of your nonprofit to narrate the video. Encourage them to talk about what the nonprofit’s work means to them and how the board makes that happen.
- Dramatic arc: Address the issue that your nonprofit aims to resolve and the conflict it creates. Then, explain that your organization needs a reliable board to power its mission.
- Main character: Highlight someone in the video that will show your nonprofit’s impact. Choose a beneficiary, a nonprofit leader, or a community member who can speak to the way the board has changed lives.
- Compelling resolution: This is where you can really celebrate your board’s significant accomplishments. Include clips of your board members at work, and illustrate how the committee contributed to solving an important issue.
Use your video to tell the story of your board’s work. Remember, in many ways, your board is the compelling resolution that your video will ultimately highlight. Show your gratitude by illustrating their importance and how their work solves an important issue in the community.
Celebrate your board members with appreciation events hosted in their honor! Cater a dinner, buy a cake, invite their families, and highlight their dedication to your nonprofit.
To ensure the event’s focus is on board members and their contributions, highlight the specific decisions they made or actions they took to further your nonprofit’s mission. You can even use eCards to send engaging digital invitations to get board members excited about the event!
There’s a reason that a ceremony often accompanies the naming of a building or the unveiling of a statue. A tribute is an honorable way to show someone the lasting impact they’ve made.
Although the resources to build a statue in honor of your board members may be difficult to come by, there are other ways you can give the gift of a tribute. eCardWidget’s charity eCards allow senders to make donations in honor of the recipient.
Make these eCards available to your staff, encouraging them to make donations in honor of your board members. Anyone who works closely with the board can send specific and meaningful eCards while also giving monetarily to support board members’ work!
How to Thank Board Members Specifically
You’ve likely heard that specificity is key when it comes to nonprofit communications. For example, it’s best to thank a donor by naming the specific amount they gave and explaining what you did with their gift. Likewise, you should thank board members for their specific contributions to the operation of your nonprofit.
To craft targeted messages of gratitude, you must first understand the various roles that your board members fill. After all, you can’t thank someone for their work if you don’t know what they do!
Although board structures vary across organizations, they’re typically divided among three categories of governing committees:
- Internal affairs: These teams focus on the internal work and structure of the organization. For example, they might manage the organization’s finances, assets, and personnel.
- External affairs: These committees handle the outward-facing affairs of the nonprofit. Anything from fundraising to marketing to public relations falls under the umbrella of external affairs.
- Organization governance: These groups exist to check the effectiveness of the organization as a whole. They may monitor the board’s performance, create board meeting materials, and recruit people to make the board more effective.
Within these three categories are teams, committees, and individual positions tasked with more specific nonprofit roles. While staff members typically fill leadership roles, such as the role of Executive Director, board members make up committees that aid in decision-making and operational tasks.
When observing a nonprofit’s structure, it becomes obvious that board members work closely with staff members to fulfill the organization’s purpose. A basic understanding of these roles can help you accurately show appreciation by targeting your messages of gratitude. For example, you can thank a board member for their hand in a specific fundraising activity or for making a connection with a valuable corporate partner.
When To Thank Board Members
It’s obvious that your board members’ work is deserving of appreciation, and you should show your gratitude regularly. However, it can be difficult to choose when you’ll say “thank you.” Where do you begin to thank someone for their around-the-clock contributions?
To standardize your appreciation efforts, select specific milestones, such as:
- Arrival: Thank new board members for joining your team! Explain the importance of their role and how much you appreciate their interest in the organization.
- Special achievements: Show your appreciation when board members accomplish a significant achievement or reach their committee’s goal. Emphasize the importance of their achievement and how it affects the organization as a whole.
- Anniversaries: Celebrate your board members’ anniversaries with your organization to show you appreciate their loyalty and continued service to your nonprofit.
- Birthdays: Honoring board members on their birthdays can humanize your engagement with them and signal your appreciation for their personal commitment to your organization.
- Departure: When board members are ready to move on to their next venture, thank them for their time with your nonprofit and celebrate everything they accomplished during their service!
By celebrating significant stages of a board member’s involvement in your organization, you’ll know exactly when to show your appreciation.
Additional Appreciation Resources
Board members are the backbone of your nonprofit’s decision-making process and higher-level operations. Showing your appreciation isn’t just a tactic to enhance your organization’s culture—it’s the natural thing to do in response to everything board members do for your nonprofit!
If you’re looking for more guidance on your appreciation efforts, check out the following resources:
- Donor Recognition: A Strategy Guide With 23 Inspiring Ideas. From board members to volunteers to donors, your nonprofit has a lot to be thankful for! Learn how to expand your appreciation efforts to reach donors with the ideas in this guide.
- How to Motivate Employees: 12 Easy Ways to Uplift Workers. While board members are likely passionate about your cause simply by the nature of their role, it’s your responsibility to continually uplift and inspire your whole team. Check out these strategies for motivating your staff.
- Empower Progress: 10+ Employee Engagement Software + Tips. While a strategic appreciation plan is useful, engagement software is another powerful piece of your toolkit that can strengthen your nonprofit’s team. Explore the best solutions in this guide.