What your board members will appreciate most during the holidays

Whether celebrating Christmas, another holiday tradition or abstaining from holidays altogether and just enjoying the lights and festivities, not much delights people more than acts of kindness. With Christmas, Hanukkah and Kwanzaa all being observed so closely, there are plenty of opportunities to share with others.

In the credit union sector, however, a little more may be required around the holidays than a decorative tree in the lobby.

The members of your executive staff, specifically board members, may just appreciate the extra effort more than others.

Why do board members deserve special treatment?
The board member title extends far beyond an impressive notch on a resume. Board members, each volunteers, come together as a council to choose the CEO, evaluate company progress and determine when and how management policies will be deployed.

As specified by the National Council of Nonprofits, board members have duties of compliance, care and loyalty. It's the board members' job to not only secure the organization's future, but guide their respective organization toward legal, financially sound decisions that achieve its mission.

The caveat is that credit unions' board members often go unpaid. While board members of any organization are usually well-accomplished, nothing spells motivation - or thank you - like handsome compensation.

According to the Credit Union Times only a small percent of financial institutions' board members are paid for their services, of which salaries vary from as little as a few hundred dollars to almost $100,000. Some state regulations depend on charter type.

Regardless of your stance on how board earnings influence and reflect performance, there are a few infallible things your staff can do to show your appreciation during the holidays.

A woman holding a bow-wrapped stack of money. In a study of over 250 credit unions, Credit Union Times found that the majority of institutions did not pay their board members.

Holiday atonement
Gary Klotz, chair of Michigan-based Community Choice Credit Union, which has $500 million in assets, told the Credit Union Times that a leadership roundtable led to appall for some board members when they realized the difference in the institution's payouts compared to other's. Director pay may be less taboo a subject if board members' contributions to their branches were more evidenced.

An appropriate gift come the holidays,  would be to celebrate your branch's accomplishments, wrote Blue Avocado, a magazine for nonprofit organizations.

Director-staff communications can often be tense and feel contrived, so the holidays are the perfect time to express just how much upper-level decisions have impacted your institution's daily operations. In a list of do's and don'ts, Blue Avocado suggested having board-influenced company achievements acknowledged at staff meetings.

To take this a step further during the holidays, proclaiming a job well done via a framed document, reminding staff of a deal closing, successful product launch or other feat could be a nice touch; Even a sincere phone call of gratitude to a few board members could result in your council having improved vigor by the new year.

When articulating your thanks, Blue Avocado said to steer clear of phrases like "thank you for helping us," which in a sense emphasizes the voluntary nature of directors' work and can be taken as contempt.

By acknowledging important benchmarks in your branch's growth, as well as keeping an open dialogue for constructive criticism, company morale will remain high, employees will feel readily engaged and the communal atmosphere of a credit union will remain just that - a gift any credit union would enjoy.