New Year’s Resolutions for Board Members


New Year – New Outlook. Time to sharpen up a positive outlook for 2021.

This post is updated from earlier years – but it is so popular that I’m updating with a 2021 twist!

Here are some ideas for nonprofit board members – to remind everyone of what’s truly important, and help focus on positive action.

How about these for a list of New Year’s Resolutions for Board Members?

1. I resolve for my contributions to be positive and optimistic.

I will bring a positive point of view to all discussions, and discourage negativity. My voice will focus on ideas of abundance rather than scarcity.

Moreover, I will aim to be always hopeful for the best; to encourage discussions of great possibilities. Knowing that negativity wipes out our board’s energy and passion, I commit to being a positive influence on other board members.

2. I will make my own proud, personal gift to support my institution.

AND I will encourage all 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 will set an example by giving cheerfully and generously, and model appropriate generosity to the rest of our board.

3. 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, alleviate suffering, 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.

4. 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 we 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 our CEO and staff how we can help them and what support they need. I will encourage a can-do attitude  – because THAT is what can change the world.

5. I resolve to deeply understand our financials.

I promise to take my role as a fiduciary guardian of our nonprofit seriously. I will work to truly understand the data about how we raise money, and how we spend it.

It will be important for me to learn more about where our money really goes, and why we need more funding. I want to learn about my organization’s fundraising plan and our specific funding/business model.

Like Tom Peters said,

“Without data, I’m just another person with an opinion.”

6. I will wholeheartedly support our fundraising program, and will encourage others to do so.

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 opening doors, making connections, meeting prospects, thanking donors, involving new people, and more.

I am interested in educating myself about fundraising – how it works today in this changing world and what works best for us. As for me, I won’t suggest a new fundraising idea or project without first understanding its potential impact on our staffing and volunteer resources.

7. I will help foster an organization culture that will support fundraising and philanthropy.

I understand my various fundraising responsibilities as a board member, and will help foster an organizational culture that will support philanthropy.

I will encourage everyone in the organization to support the fundraising program in whatever way they can. In addition, I will help celebrate our donors as important stakeholders in our mission.

Finally, I will ensure that fundraising is respected and acknowledged as an important mission-centric activity.

8. 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?

9. I will support our CEO 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, giving them a healthy, happy workplace and ensure that adequate training is provided to do the job.

I resolve to support an appropriate 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, our CEO or Executive Director.

I resolve to show up. To return their phone calls and e-mails.  And help out when asked.

10. I will advocate for our cause wherever I go.

Knowing that ideas can be contagious and spread among people like wildfire — I will spread the word about our work wherever I go.

Above all, I want to help 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:

For the coming year, and all years, I dedicate myself to making my service on the board meaningful.

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Wishing you a prosperous and positive New Year!