By: Gail Perry
President, Gail Perry Associates Philanthropy Consultants
It’s the New Year – and it’s a great time to make smart resolutions for the future!
This post is a perennial favorite with my readers – I’ve updated it for this year.
Here are some ideas for nonprofit board members – to help everyone get started on the right foot for the year and keep on track as we launch into the new year.
You might find that these ideas will open up some interesting discussions – about expectations, attitudes and actions needed from ALL board members.
How about these for a list of New Year’s Resolutions for Board Members?
- I will encourage everyone to think big.
As a board member, I know that thinking small will not get us where we want to go.
We are not going to change the world, save the environment, feed the hungry, change our community, find a cure – by thinking small.
So I will think big. I understand that there is great power in a big, wildly exciting vision.
Because a big juicy vision will help attract people – and financial resources – to our cause.
- I will have a bias towards action.
Knowing that my organization needs more than talk out of board members, I will focus on positive actions that I can take.
I refuse to be one of those board members who thinks their job is simply to come to meetings and just offer an opinion.
I will ask the ED and our staff what they need the board members to actually DO this month, this quarter, this year.
Taking action will be more fun and will create much better results!
- I resolve to understand our numbers.
I promise to spend some time understanding the data about how we raise money and how we spend it.
I want to learn more about where our money really goes.
I want to learn about my organization’s fundraising plan and our funding/business model.
Like Tom Peters said, “Without data, I’m just another person with an opinion.”
I want to know more about my role as a fiduciary guardian of our nonprofit.
- I will support our fundraising program and our annual fundraising plan.
I understand that there are many ways I can support fundraising and help celebrate our donors.
Since fundraising is not just just about asking for money, I know I can play a valuable role even if I am not out there soliciting – (by listing my relationships, meeting prospects, thanking donors, involving new people, etc)
I understand my various fundraising responsibilities as a board member.
I will help foster an organizational culture that will support philanthropy .
I’m interested in educating myself about fundraising – how it works today and what works best for us.
I won’t suggest a new fundraising idea or project without first understanding its potential impact on our staffing and volunteer resources.
- I will be optimistic, no matter what!
Knowing that negativity is self-defeating, I will discourage everyone from handwringing and naysaying.
I know that negativity wipes out all our energy and passion.
I resolve to be the board member who has the point of view of abundance rather than scarcity.
And I hope to influence the rest of my fellow board members.
I will encourage a positive, can-do attitude – because THAT is what can change the world.
- I will go back to my vision again and again.
I know that my vision of a better world will help to keep me energized, focused, passionate, and results-oriented.
So I will stay focused on my vision of what’s possible and how our organization is making it happen.
If any of our board members feel jaded or bored, I’ll encourage them to remember why they really care about this cause and our organization.
I’ll do my best to keep the fires of passion and energy burning brightly.
- I will dare to challenge the status quo.
Knowing that change is hard for all organizations, including ours – I will be open to new ideas and new ways of doing things.
I will encourage my fellow board members to be willing to let go – no matter how threatening change is.
I will remember Jack Welch’s famous quote: “If change is happening outside the organization faster than it is on the inside, the end is near.”
I resolve to be willing to ask, “Why are we doing this?”
- I will make my own proud, personal gift to support my organization.
AND I will encourage the other board members to give.
I understand that if we don’t put our money where our mouth is, we have absolutely no credibility.
I resolve to set an example by giving cheerfully and generously.
- I will support the Executive Director and staff.
I will not ask the staff to overwork themselves, or sacrifice their personal lives in the name of our cause.
Understanding that they carry enormous responsibility on their shoulders, I will support paying them competitive salaries.
I resolve to support a healthy boundary between board members and staffers. This means that I will not attempt to direct individual staff members. Instead I will deal with their boss, the ED.
I resolve to show up. To return their phone calls and e-mails. And help out when asked.
- I will be a “sneezer” and advocate for our cause wherever I go.
Knowing that ideas can be contagious and spread among people like viruses — I will practice my cheerful elevator speech when I meet a potential supporter.
Above all, I want to create an epidemic of buzz about my organization all around.
I resolve to be a terrific personal advocate for our organization and our cause. And I”ll have fun doing it!
Bottom Line on New Year’s Resolutions for Board Members:
I don’t want to mess around as a board member.
I certainly don’t want to waste time in meaningless meetings that are all talk and no action.
I want to make my service on the board meaningful.
I want to make a real difference in the world!
Gail Perry is an international fundraising consultant, keynote speaker, trainer and philanthropy leader, with deep expertise in major gift and capital campaign fundraising. Her Fired-Up Fundraising approach, developed over the past 30 years as a nonprofit philanthropy expert, has helped organizations raise hundreds of millions in gifts.