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Look here for infomation and the latest techniques to develop your board or committee. The purpose is to help those who work or serve on nonprofit boards of directors or committees.
~ March 2003 ~ Topic

Old Board Members Shouldn’t Just Fade Away

In the past month two good and extremely capable friends mentioned to me that they had served previously on boards of organizations they liked and respected. Their terms had ended and one of them decided not to serve another term and the other was affected by term limitations—a policy of that board which he understood. However, both of these people said that since leaving the board, they had had no communication from the organization: no newsletters, no calls from the new chairs of committees they had chaired to ask for advice or information, not even, unbelievably, a fund raising letter.
Old board members shouldn’t just fade away. Some ways to continue to keep them involved and encourage their continuing support even when they are no longer voting policy makers are:

  • Send them newsletters and annual reports
  • Give them an opportunity to share their wisdom with the member(s) of the new board who is taking over their position
  • Ask them to serve on an appropriate committee or
  • Ask them to serve on an advisory committee (make sure these committee assignments are genuine, limited and focused)
  • Include them in strategic planning information gathering about the organization’s future
  • Host a yearly coffee or luncheon to which past members are invited to hear about the progress of the organization
  • Ask them to continue to sign fund raising letters to people they know who have contributed in the past
  • Ask them to suggest new funding contacts
  • Ask them to suggest names of new board members
  • Call them on occasion for advice in the area of their professional expertise

Board members are legally responsible for an organization and work for the best interests of the organization during their terms on the board. The organization needs to recognize that. It is foolish not to continue to consider past members as members of its supporting family.

I welcome other ideas for including past board members as continuing supporters and resources.


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Other good sources for information on boards and committees:

Jeanne H. Bradner

Jeanne H. Bradner is an author, consultant, trainer and speaker on volunteerism, board development and leadership. She is the author of three publications, Passionate Volunteerism, The Board Member's Guide, A Beneficial Bestiary and Leading Volunteers for Results: Building Communities Today. She served as director of the Illinois Governor's Office of Voluntary Action, Midwest Regional Director of ACTION, and Executive Director of the Illinois Commission on Community Service. She is the volunteer program specialist for Illinois' Harper College Volunteer Management curriculum.

Send your comments and questions to Jeannebrad@aol.com

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