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April is National Volunteer Month. Here’s How to Thank Your Board Members.

Did you know that April is National Volunteer Month?

If you are doing things right, your charter school’s board of trustees is a highly effective team, strategically assembled to bring the skills, expertise, temperament, and time, to govern a multimillion-dollar public enterprise.

While they’re not merely a group of well-meaning people, they are a group of dedicated volunteers.

To help your volunteers stay engaged and inspired, show them that you appreciate them.

How to keep board members engaged is a common question among trustees and CEOs alike.

One simple tip has come up time and again with the charter school leaders and CEOs we see thriving throughout the nation.

We heard it from Equitas founding CEO Malka Borrego at our OnTrack LA event. We heard it from Caprice Young, charter school hall of fame inductee, on our Governing for Growth webinar.

Thanking your trustees is the top charter school leaders’ tip for keeping your board members engaged.

So, in honor of National Volunteer Month, here are our favorite ideas for thanking your volunteer board members.

Of course, you don’t have to wait for April to try these out. Thank your trustees any time. And come back here for inspiration over and again throughout the year.

Enjoy a Sweet or Healthy Treat

Sending along a sweet treat to share, a beautiful {and healthy} fruit bouquet, or something truly nourishing, can be a lovely way to show your appreciation. Go homemade or done for you.

If you’re a baker, something homemade can feel very special — like classic chocolate chip cookies from your favorite recipe. But, you don’t have to bake it yourself.

Bring the Outdoors In With Plants

For nature lovers, even those who don’t have a green thumb, send an air plant or a succulent.

There are some beautiful air plant options from artisans on Etsy {who could even be local to your recipient}, more succulent gardens from more traditional florists, or even on Amazon.

Connect It With Your Mission or Brand

Had your fill of water bottles and tote bags? Rather than the usual branded swag, go for something creative that connects with the reason your trustees got involved with your organization in the first place — the mission.

Take a minute to brainstorm, by yourself or with your team. Then find the perfect thank-you to represent your mission on unique sites like Etsy, Uncommon Goods, or Grommet. Or with services like Clove & Twine make it easy to create a gift something special, whether you’re going for one item or a gift set.

If you’ve got a major STEAM focus in your programs and curricula, consider gifts that fit the science, tech, engineering, art, and/or mathematical them. A framed women in science poster, a reusable whiteboard notebook, or an interesting DIY kit.

And if you’re looking at creating a whole bunch of branded gifts, all at once or throughout the year, take a look at Gravy.

Send a Custom-Made Gift Basket — Or One That’s Readymade

Services like Box Fox, Teak & Twine, Glow Gifts, or Knack make it simple to gift beautiful gift boxes that make for memorable shows of appreciation.

Choose the perfect assortment already put together for you, or compile your own with items personally selected to connect with what each trustee brings to the organization, or what you know they love most.

Books!

Your trustees have signed on to your board because they believe in the value of a high-quality education for every student. A book with a personalized note can be a lovely way to honor that commitment.

The One Thing is a favorite here at BoardOnTrack, and is sure to be loved by anyone seeking to achieve great things with very limited time. {As is the case for every charter trustee!}

Eva Moskowitz’ memoir, The Education of Eva Moskowitz, can be an inspiring pick for your charter governance team members. Hear directly from the founder of Success Academy what she describes as “ a frank, feisty memoir about the rough-and-tumble battles to reform America’s education system.”

Or, check out Work Hard Be Nice, the story of Mike Feinberg and Dave Levin’s journey from Teach for America to founding and scaling KIPP. Today, KIPP includes scores of schools throughout nearly half the nation.

How Children Succeed, Paul Tough’s exploration into the real reasons why some children succeed, “argues that the qualities that matter most have more to do with character: skills like perseverance, curiosity, conscientiousness, optimism, and self-control.”

In Grit, Angela Duckworth shares the results of her research, finding that talent and intelligence pale in comparison to grit. And that grit is something we can grow.

Of course, our own books on Board Meetings and Board Structure are also an option. They make a great set when purchased together.

For the Very Practical Useful

If the more practical and useful is the way to go for your board members, consider a cell phone or multi-device charger. Many can be customized with your organization’s logo or a personal message, by hand or in bulk.

What’s the best thank-you gift you’ve ever received?

Our founder, Marci Cornell-Feist, says hands-down the favorite volunteer thank you she’s ever received is a crystal apple from Ed Pioneers, with some nice accolades on it. In fact, we here at BoardOnTrack have given similar ones out for our Excellence in Governance Awards.

I thought I might say that my favorite thank-you gift, in professional life, must be the engraved wooden plaque I received when I left my role managing a national network of volunteers.

But, years later, it’s the handwritten thank-you notes that my volunteers took the time to write and send me that is truly my favorite. Even after going all Marie Kondo on my home office, I’ve kept those notes in a special place. If you’re feeling a bit out of practice with handwritten thank-you notes, this article shares some excellent inspiration for your message. And you’ll find a selection the most beautiful notecards here.

Whatever you choose to do, the most important thing is that you do something. Any form of appreciation is…well…appreciated.

Drop us a note to tell us how you’ve thanked your charter school trustees. Whether during National Volunteer Month, or at any point in the year.

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