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.

If you’d like to reprint this article in your newsletter or distribute it to your board members, please link and attribute to this site.


As always, it is a pleasure to share our weekly news and insights with you. 

If you want to build and expand your major and principal gifts programs, keep an eye on your inbox. Applications will open soon for our 2021 Major Gifts Intensive Coaching Program.

Wishing you a prosperous and positive New Year!

A Message To You

Yesterday was Thanksgiving in the U.S., a time to give thanks for what we have.

It felt a little different this year. 

2020 has thrown a lot of challenges our way. Maybe it feels like we’d rather wish away 2020 than be thankful for it. 

But as we all know – there is no light without darkness. There have been so many bright spots in 2020, amid the challenges. We have been brought together, even when apart. 

We realize now, more than ever, we cannot take our health for granted. We are thankful to have gotten to December – through a historic election and a pandemic; thankful to have our loved ones close (physically or virtually). 

And right now, we want to take a moment to give thanks to you.

The fundraisers, the development team, the major gift officers, directors and VP’s, the board members, the CEOs.

You are an army of justice and peace and kindness.  We know you are seldom acknowledged and thanked for your selfless and difficult work. 

So we want to take this special opportunity to appreciate you, day in and day out. Rain or shine. Recession, pandemic, or not. 

You are carrying the light. You are performing a crucial act in order to bring positive change to the world. 

We are thankful for you. 

P.S. We Have a Special Black Friday Sale, Just for You

Because 2020 has been super challenging, you deserve a boost. We want you to have the chance to skill up and save. 

That’s why we’ve bundled our two top-tier on-demand courses together for special savings – save $800!

Capital Campaigns in Times of Crisis: 5 Keys to a Successful Campaign Even in Today’s Uncertain World

Raise Major Gifts in Virtual Times: Master the Skills You Need to Thrive

This has been a challenging time. It seems you have to pivot your strategy every other day. This takes time, energy, and costs your organization money. 

Let us help you pivot faster and easier using our lessons learned. 


We hope you will join us in the course and on our live coaching call in December. What a wonderful time to all pull together and learn from each other.


As always, it is a pleasure to share our weekly news and insights with you. 

If you are planning a capital campaign and would like to learn about our unique Capital Campaigns by the Numbers approach, let us know. 

Hope you have a wonderful and safe weekend.

We all imagine that 2020 will go down in history as a difficult year.  And now here we are waiting for election results in the U.S.

Politics and elections can certainly be exhausting for everyone.

But being involved in civic life (politics) also offers important opportunities to nonprofits. And today I want to talk about the appropriate role of nonprofits in civil society.

I’ve been an active political volunteer for decades, and the relationships I’ve developed in this arena have benefited me – and my clients – in many ways.

Take a listen to the video below and think about putting these ideas to work for your nonprofit!

Bottom Line: do’s and don’ts for nonprofits, politics and elections:

1. As appropriate, do speak out publicly about your cause and your stakeholders.

Do stick to topics that are relevant to your mission and that represent your stakeholders needs.

2. Be seen as a force for the good who brings people together.

Don’t be seen as divisive. If you can, develop a reputation as a community leader who has good ideas to make your community stronger.

3. Develop friendly relationships with your local elected officials.

Do communicate with them to educate them about your cause.

For example, most elected officials want to know more about the community, its needs and issues.

In many cases, they welcome this sort of contact. If at all possible, take on a partisan label – unless it is appropriate to your stakeholders and mission.

4. When you are known (and liked) by public officials, then you can have a voice in public policy.

You will then be able to represent your organization when community resources are allocated to local nonprofits.

There’s an old saying that “if you are not at the table when community resources are allocated, then you might be on the menu.”

As always, it is a pleasure to share our weekly news and insights with you. 

If you are planning a capital campaign and would like to learn about our unique Capital Campaigns by the Numbers approach, let us know. 

Hope you have a wonderful weekend.