Dear board volunteers . . . I’m sorry about so very much!

mardi gras mask11DonorDreams blog is honored to be hosting the May 2013 Nonprofit Blog Carnival. The theme this month is “Dear board volunteer . . .” and the idea is “If you could write an anonymous letter to a nonprofit board about something they do that drives you crazy, what would that letter look like and what suggested solutions would you include?” If you are a blogger and would like more information on how to participate and submit a post for consideration, please click here to learn more.

I wanted to expand the Nonprofit Blog Carnival concept in May. So, I reached out to real non-profit people and asked them to also write an anonymous letter to their board volunteers. These folks are executive directors, fundraising professionals, board members, donors, community volunteers, consultants and front line staff. I promised everyone anonymity in exchange for their submissions.

We will celebrate May’s Nonprofit Blog Carnival on Wednesday, May 29, 2013. In the meantime, I hope you enjoy this real look at real issues that our community deals with on a daily basis.

Here is today’s letter:

Dear Board Members,

Over the last several years, we have accomplished much together. Our budget has nearly tripled, we serve nearly twice as many youth, and the community recognizes us as an effective and trustworthy not-for-profit. Despite our great successes, we certainly could have done more.

Rising short of our full potential, there are some things I need to share with you.

First, I am sorry that many of you came on the board and were not adequately engaged in the work of the board. Far too many of you just simply coasted along without more regular contact from me or the board leadership team. We wasted your potential.

Second, I am sorry that so many of you were not more thoroughly cultivated before you were brought on board. Far too many of you needed to be exposed to the message and the mission before you were brought on board. We didn’t stoke your passion and develop your commitment near enough.

Third, I am sorry that many of you were brought on board (and this is really hard to say) and never should have been invited in the first place. Too many times, we were bringing people on who just lacked the connectedness within our community. Too many times we were bringing people on who lacked the passion, lacked the ability to work as a team, or lacked the wisdom of life that could make all the difference. We brought you into a situation that set you up for failure.

Fourth, I am sorry that we have not committed enough time to exploring and understanding the board-staff relationship. The challenge of making sense of this complex relationship demands that we spend more time researching and examining best practices, adding to our wealth of knowledge and molding a strategic direction. We owe it to ourselves, our organization, our donors and our members, to become the most effective team possible. To date, we continue to find our “sweet” spot. We need to do more.

Lastly, I look forward to our coming years together. Like the members we serve, we have great potential for growth. So much has been done in such a short time. So much more needs to be done.

Let’s move forward having learned from our recent success, striving to realize our full potential.

Most Sincerely,
I’m sorry . . . so very sorry!

If you have some advice for the author of our anonymous letter, please share it in the comment box at the bottom of this post in a respectful manner.  If you want to submit an anonymous letter for consideration this month, please email it to me at the address in your signature block below.If you are a blogger looking to participate in this month’s Nonprofit Blog Carnival and want to learn more, then please click here.

Here’s to your health!

Erik Anderson
Founder & President, The Healthy Non-Profit LLC!/eanderson847


  1. One of the boards I sit on is currently rebuilding itself. I will be sharing this letter with the entire group. It is an excellent reminder that we be thoughtful about properly cultivating new people, engaging them, and giving them the support they need.

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