A Board Exercise in Gratitude

June 22, 2015

By Susan Detwiler, Licensed Consultant, Standards for Excellence Institute

Read the original blog here.

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Where there is no gratitude, there is no meaningful movement; human affairs become rocky, painful, coldly indifferent, unpleasant, and finally break off altogether. The social ‘machinery’ grinds along and soon seizes up.
~Margaret Visser

Thanksgiving is an obvious time to write about being thankful, and it’s nice to have a time to stop and consider all that we have to be grateful for. We think about our friends, our family, our health.

It’s also not such a bad time to stop and contemplate how awesome your board is, and how much they’ve contributed to the well-being of your organization.

When was the last time you thanked your board members?They’re each making your agency a priority in their lives, giving timetalent, and treasure. They could be giving it somewhere else. They could also NOT be giving. But there they are, week after week, month after month, making difficult decisionsacting as cheerleaderssupporting your workbeing ambassadors for your agency.

Each board member is the equivalent of a major donor. Whether or not the dollars are substantial, she has the capacity to make your life easier, introduce you to supporters, provoke new ideas, and stabilize a situation. She should be told how much she means to you.

Here’s a simple exercise. If you’re the Executive Director, the next time you write a thank you note to a donor, also write one to a board member. Do that until you’ve written one to every member of your board. If you’re the board president, sit down and hand write a thank you note to each board member. If you can, name a specific action for which you are grateful.

Do you want to cultivate an attitude of gratitude within the board? At each meeting, assign one or two board members to offer a very brief statement of gratitude around the organization. It might be why they are grateful the organization exists. It might be what they appreciate about a staff member. It might be what committee they are particularly grateful to.

In many faith traditions, there is the concept “do not withhold the wages of the laborer.” It’s obvious how that applies to staff, but the wages of a volunteer are less obvious.

The wages of a volunteer – the wages of your board members – are the thanks he receives for his work.

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