The majority of board members serve out the entirety of their terms with no problem. Life happens, though, and sometimes, you may need to step down and away from serving on a board of directors earlier than you anticipated.
You might be wondering how to resign from a nonprofit board—like anything else, there's a right and wrong way to do it.
Choosing one over the other could mean the difference between preserving relationships and opportunities down the road…
Or burning bridges with the organization entirely.
Write a Letter When You Resign From a Nonprofit Board
You’ll want to communicate your resignation from the board as professionally as possible. You may choose to break the news to your board chair in person, and that's perfectly fine—just make sure you're following up with an official letter to both the chair and the rest of the board. Email is certainly acceptable, but make it a formal one!
Your board resignation letter in any form should include the following:
Your Statement of Resignation
Don't bury the lede! Make it clear that your letter is meant to communicate your exit from the board of directors.
Your End Date
You’ve got two choices when you resign: step down effective immediately, or set a date in the future. (At the end of the organization’s fiscal year, for example.) Whatever you choose, be clear about your last day of board service.
Your Reasons for Resigning From the Board
While you don't need to explain more than you're comfortable with, you do want to touch on your reasons for stepping away from the board. Keep this brief and avoid going into a lot of detail—especially if there's "drama."
Your Future Participation
Is there anything you’ll continue to participate in? If you're resigning effective immediately, make sure to tie up any loose ends on projects you've been working on. If your end date is in the future, specify whether you'll be participating at full or reduced capacity until then.
Don't forget to thank your fellow board members, if you feel it's due. Especially if you aren't looking to burn the bridge moving forward, it's a good idea to let folks know you've appreciated your time working together.
As always, don't forget to proofread!
Sample Nonprofit Board Resignation Letter
Here's a sample resignation letter that includes all of the appropriate information:
I'm writing to announce my resignation from the board of directors of Youth Program, effective at the end of this fiscal year. My last day of service will be June 30, 2022.
The mission of Youth Program is one I'm passionate about, and I believe the work of the organization deserves the full attention of any board member. As my professional and family obligations have increased over this past year, I feel I'm no longer able to participate at the appropriate level.
I've truly enjoyed my time serving on the Youth Program board, and I am happy to continue serving on the events committee through the end of my service.
I want to thank you and the rest of the board for your fellowship and support throughout my time with Youth Program. If I can be of any assistance in finding and onboarding my replacement, please do let me know.
Communicate With Clarity for the Best Result
Resigning from a nonprofit board can be a tough choice to make—and it can feel difficult to execute properly, as well.
Follow the steps listed above to make the best choice for yourself and the nonprofit you serve, and communicate with clarity for the best result.