2014 New Year’s Resolutions for Board Members

Are you ready for 2014?

And . . . Is your board ready?

This is the time when we all step back and make our resolutions.


Here are some great New Year’s Resolutions for your board members!

This list is a perennial favorite with my readers.

Here it is newly updated for 2014.

If you are a board member – take a look.

See if these ideas don’t open up some interesting discussions - about expectations, attitudes and actions needed from ALL board members.

1.     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 staff what they need our board members to actually DO this month, this quarter, this year.

I will put my money where my mouth is and support my nonprofit.

Taking action will be more fun and will create much better results!

2.     I resolve to understand the numbers.

I promise to spend some time understanding our finances.

I want to learn more about  where the money really goes.

I’m interested in learning about  my organization’s fundraising plan and our funding model.

I want to know more about my role as a fiduciary guardian of our nonprofit.

3.   I will encourage everyone to think big.

I know that we are not going to change the world, save the environment, feed the hungry, change our community, by thinking small.
So I will think big.snoopy think big
I understand that there is great power in a big, wildly exciting vision.
Because a big vision will help attract people – and resources – to our cause.

Like Donald Trump said:

“If you are going to be thinking anyway, you might as well think big!”

4.     I will support our fundraising program.

Knowing that fundraising is not just about asking for money, I want to understand my various fundraising responsibilities as a board member.

I’ll do what I can to help bring in resources.

I will support building 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 without understanding its impact on our staffing and volunteer resources.

5.     I will be optimistic, no matter what!

I will be the board member who believes in abundance, and sees the glass half full.

Knowing that negativity is self-defeating, I will discourage everyone from engaging in “handwringing” and naysaying.

I know that It 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.

I will encourage a positive, can-do attitude  - because THAT is what can change the world.

6.  I will go back to my vision again and again.

I know that my vision will keep me excited, focused, passionate, and results-oriented.

So I will stay focused on what’s possible.

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.

7.     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.

“If change is happening on the outside faster than on the inside, the end is near.” Jack Welch

I will remember Jack Welch’s quote:

“If the 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?”

8.     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.

9.     I will support the staff.

Understanding that an acknowledged staff is a more productive staff, I will ask the staff how I can best support them. 

Understanding that they carry enormous responsibility on their shoulders, I will support paying them competitive salaries.

I will not ask the staff to overwork themselves, or sacrifice their personal lives in the name of our cause.

I resolve to return their phone calls.  And respond to their e-mails.  And help out.

10. 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 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:

I don’t want to mess around as a board member.

I certainly don’t want to waste my time in meaningless meetings and committees.

I want to make my service on the board meaningful.

And make a real difference in the world!

From Gail: Let’s all get on board and make it happen in 2014!

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

Can you add your own resolution below with your comment?

Tell me what you think with a comment below!

  • Claire Axelrad

    What a great post! This would be excellent to share with board members. I started to try to pick my favorite pieces of advice/wisdom, but I simply couldn’t. They’re all essential.

  • gailperry

    thanks so much Claire! Happy new year to you!

  • Laura

    Excellent list, Gail. I’m saving this for when I find an organization to support as a Board member!

  • Joe

    I like these. I also recommend one more — “we will have fun together.”. Dreary druggery is a do owner.

  • Nidia Wolf

    Somehow I wish the first idea included a statement that the E.D. does not need 7,8,9 different people giving their suggestions on what the E.D. should do. The board should speak with one voice! How do I get that across to them? I don’t mind listening to ideas, but I cannot jump on everyone of them.

  • gailperry

    OMG Joe, you absolutely nailed it. Of course we need to add that one. Having fun is absolutely essential! I need to go back and rewrite!

  • gailperry

    Hoh boy Nidia, you are so right. Need to add that one too!
    Maybe we need to have another list – and it’s the “people’s” list – generated by the crowd. Thanks!

  • Simona Biancu

    Great suggestions, Gail!
    I’m particularly involved in number 4 and 8.
    Asking Board members from the NGOs I work with to support the fundraising plan (by listing relationships, meeting prospects, involving new people) is among my “obsession”. Sometimes it’s hard, but that’s the reason why I’ve been asked to be their consultant!
    But the most controversial – I mean for lots of Italian-based NGOs – is the number 8. The typical answer to my question “Have you (as Board members) ever made a gift to your NGO?” is: “…but we’re here and we donate our time! Isn’t it enough? If you try to convert these hours into money you’ll see how great are our gifts”.
    Well, of course it’s a question of culture – raising funds in a managerial way is something quite unknown for a number of Italian NGOs, but it’s a central point I usually have to deal with, and it seems really hard to change.
    My typical answer is: “If you don’t put money into your NGO, how can you ask a prospect for a gift? If you don’t trust in your NGO fundraising efforts, why a potential donors should trust it?”.
    Sometimes it works, sometimes not, but I have a question for you: Have you ever faced objections like these? I would like to share other consultants’ experiences over such point.
    Thanks a lot for you posts and Happy New Year!

  • Julia R. Wilson

    I love this article, and I actually share the original (sparkplug version) on GuideStar with all our new board members – thank you for the updated version!

  • gailperry

    Simona, there are lots of cultural issues regarding board governance, and you point out an obvious one.

    It may not be generally accepted practice in your culture for board members to be involved in fundraising and to make their own gift.

    But we can sure try to educate them!

  • Monica Zinchiak

    I shared with my fellow board members and made a resolution to practice #7 although I will keep all in mind this coming year as I serve. Happy New Year!

  • Mamadou Lam

    Association participation au développement économique et social (APDES)
    Chers bailleurs,votre soutien est un vaccin contre la pauvrété.
    A Monsieur le Responsable exécutif .
    l’année dernière , nous avons avions envoyé de nombreux demande de subventions à vos organismes,relative à notre appel à projet 2013 dans le cadre de formation et encadrement des jeunes rapatriés du Sénégal,réinstallés dans la région du brakna en Mauritanie.
    Malheureusement, aucun organisme n’a fait un signe de solidarités et pourtant cette communauté souffre
    et a besoin de votre soutien.
    Monsieur , la fin de l’année approche avec ses moments de partage et de solidarité : ce n’est pas le moment de baisser les bras.Continuons ensemble d’accompagner ceux qui ont le plus besoin dans ces moments difficiles.
    Pour que des enfants soient en meilleurs santé,qu’ils conquièrent leur liberté,que des familles sortent du cercle vicieux de la pauvreté…la première des solidarités;c’est de leur favoriser l’accès une éducation de qualité.
    Aujourd’hui des populations rapatries du Sénégal , réinstallés dans la région du Brakna en Mauritanie ont plus que jamais besoin de notre soutien.
    Aujourd’hui ,la crise nous atteint également et réduit la capacité de certains d’entre nous à donner. Votre don est essentiel : il contribue à la construction d’une société plus solidaire,qui répond aux aspirations des peuples et aux exigences d’un monde ouvert.
    Monsieur,nous renouvelons de cet appel à projet qui présente un besoin crucial de cette communauté démunie et nous avons besoin 330057 dollars soient 102.317.900 ouguyas dans le cadre de cet appel à projet.Votre don de 5000 dollars est essentiel. Découvrez nos principales missions et adressez vos dons par virement sur ce compte 26327 société général Mauritanie sans attendre. (Voir ci-joint )
    Monsieur,au nom de cette communauté rapatriée et au nom de ONG APDES nous vous adresserons une lettre de remerciement et des rapports d’évaluations après l’octroi d’une subvention de votre soutien.
    Je vous remercie par avance et vous souhaitez de passer d’excellente debut mois de janvier et mes vœux pour de l’année de 2014 sous le signe de solidarité.

    Mamadou Moussa Lam
    Président de APDES
    TEL: 0022246507096