We offer this list of suggested New Year’s Resolutions for Board Members to encourage them to consider their important role and reflect on how they can be more effective as board members.
Here are 10 New Year’s resolutions for board members that encourage self-reflection on your board’s culture, its decision-making process, how everyone behaves, and how involved everyone is in fundraising.
The beginning of the year is a great time to set goals and resolutions that can help board members make a positive impact on their organization and the community it serves.
This post is updated from earlier years – but it is perennially popular. I’ve updated it for 2023!
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 proposed New Year’s Resolutions for Board Members?
1. I will foster a positive and inclusive culture on our board and within our nonprofit.
As a board member, I will strive to create a welcoming and inclusive environment for all stakeholders, including staff, volunteers, donors, and people we serve. This means actively seeking out diverse perspectives and ideas, and creating a culture of respect and open communication.
To support inclusivity, I will welcome diverse people, perspectives and options. In addition, I will be aware of our board’s culture, and will encourage board members from diverse backgrounds to share their perspectives in our discussions.
I resolve for all 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 as stewards of the organization’s financial health and mission.
When everyone is making their own proud personal gift, they are demonstrating their support for fundraising. They’re acknowledging that fundraising, gifts and contributions are all essential to financial stability.
When everyone is participating in your organization’s philanthropy, you are adding integrity to the fundraising process. As a matter of fact, when board members are not supporting their organization financially, they send a very loud message to the community — that they are not fully behind this organization’s mission.
I will set an example by giving cheerfully and generously, and model appropriate generosity to the rest of our board.
To put it in the words of a funder:“If the leaders of the organization don’t support it, why should anyone else?”
3. I will encourage everyone to think big and challenge the status quo.
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 encourage everyone to think big. I understand that there is great power in a big, wildly exciting vision. Because, we know that a big juicy vision will help attract people – and financial resources – to our cause.
Even more, knowing that change is hard for all organizations, including ours – I will be open to new ideas and new ways of doing things. I resolve to be willing to ask, “Why are we doing it this way?”
I will encourage my fellow board members to be willing to let go of the past and consider new opportunities and strategies – no matter how threatening change is.
Equally, 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.”
4. I will have a bias towards positive 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.
Moreover, I will make sure that the opinions that I do offer are thoughtful, respectful and are based on some type of data rather than on my personal preferences.
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.
Likewise, I will share these new years resolutions for board members with my colleagues and encourage open discussion of these ideas.
5. I resolve to stay informed and understand our financials.
I promise to take my role as a fiduciary guardian of our nonprofit seriously. As a board member, I understand my responsibility to oversee the financial health of the organization.
I’ll resolve to stay informed about my organization’s budget, financial performance, and fundraising efforts. Even more, I will encourage transparency and accountability. I’ll look deeply at the data on 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.
In particular, I will commit to reviewing – and understanding – financial reports and resolve to ask questions when necessary.
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 board members are the highest authorities of our organization, I know that we can add clout to all aspects of the fundraising program. Additionally, we know that donors feel honored when a board member makes a thank you phone call or sends a thank you email.
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.
In addition, I resolve to educate 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 organizational culture that will support fundraising and philanthropy.
I understand my various fundraising responsibilities as a board member, and will help foster a strong organizational culture of philanthropy.
As a supportive board member, I will encourage everyone in the organization foster the three components of a true culture of philanthropy.
One, we will all engage in and support the fundraising program in whatever way they can. We know there are many ways that everyone in the organization can help in fundraising without having to ask for money. Fundraising will not be isolated into an organizational silo.
Second, I will encourage an organizational culture that celebrates our donors as important stakeholders and supporters of our mission.
Finally, I will ensure that fundraising is respected and acknowledged as an important mission-centric activity. Instead of backing away from fundraising, I will encourage fellow board members to be as supportive as possible.
8. 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. Equally, I will encourage a positive work environment where our staff team feels acknowledged and respected.
Understanding that they carry enormous responsibility on their shoulders, I will support paying them competitive salaries, giving them a healthy, happy workplace and ensuring that adequate training is provided to do the job.
I resolve to support an appropriate boundary between board members and staffers, and I will encourage other board members to understand the management lines of communication.
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 when a staff member calls or emails. And help out when asked.
9. 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.
I resolve to be a great ambassador for our organization – sharing news and information about our impact to everyone in my network.
Above all, I want to help create an epidemic of buzz about my organization all around. I’ll practice conversation skills and a short elevator speech that can open the door to a potential donor.
I resolve to be a terrific personal advocate for our organization and our cause. And I’ll have fun doing it!
10. I will support the board to assess its governance and performance each year.
Knowing that good governance practices should always be reviewed and discussed, I will encourage us to conduct an annual self-assessment.
Moreover, I understand that the results of our board self assessment can open up new ideas about the way we work together, how we run our board meetings, what expectations we ask of all the board members, and our overall internal culture.
I’ll encourage our Board Governance Committee to bring forward new ideas, practices and strategies to help our board become a high-functioning team.
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. And to encourage a positive, can-do, board culture.
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