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Meaningful Gift Ideas for Departing Board Members

Author: Lynn Harkin, CAE
02/09/2021

Tired of the same old walnut wood, bronze plated, gavel glued on a plaque for your recognition ceremonies or annual meeting? Do you have outgoing leadership or staff who is retiring or a special vendor/sponsor that you want to really say ‘thank you’ in a special way?  Is there a special volunteer who has gone above and beyond for your organization? 

Here are some suggestions for a meaningful gift:

1. Use a local artist

We have an association member who does glass art.  Gorgeous items from plates, bowls, wall hangings, coasters, etc. and will even have a brass plate made up (but will not attach it) so you can put your organization, their name, maybe years of service. 

2. Something made by one of your clients

I had a candy dish made by one of the families we served in our organization.  It was made of clay people – all different shapes and colors – holding hands.  So touching and so powerful.

3. Gold or silver bracelet engraved with a special message

It can be their name, thank you, the organization’s name, something generic like ‘you made a difference’ or something personal such as ‘Grandma’ if they are always talking about their family and grandkids.  Regardless, whenever they look at it, it will fondly remind them of your organization and the important work they did.

4. Writing a Book About Their Experience

There are all kinds of templates out there to use or it’s easy to come up with questions on your own – the important part is capture their story.  There’s nothing better than getting into the head and heart of someone who really cares and took action to show it.

5. Record a Video About Their Lives/Volunteer Experience

Similar to to a book, just do it on your phone! Ask their permission to put it out on social media, print in a newsletter, show it at a recognition event

6. Anything from a ‘subscription’ service

Send them a Plant of the month / Vegetable of the Month / Fruit of the Month.  How fun would it be for your special volunteer, staffer or vendor to receiving a little bit of love from you every month?

7. Something related to their hobbies

Gardening tote & some seeds; gardening gift basket, Polaroid Instant Camera to take pictures of nature, family, food etc.; craft kits for adults (or kids so they can do it with a neighborhood kid or grandchild.)  Whatever it is, schedule a time in a couple of months to check in with them to see what they did with the gift.

8. Retirement Gifts

Museum Membership; Personalized Travel Map; Blue Apron Subscription; Wine Making Kits. Open the world of things they never had the time to do before.

A writer and poet, Van Dyke, coined the aphorism: “It is not the gift, but the thought that counts.”  This special person that you want to recognize is important — take the time and spend the money to symbolize that life-long relationship.

Meaningful Gift Ideas for Departing Board Members