Prepare for the Upcoming Year with Board Member Transition Tools


Set next year’s board up for success with these how-to guides for conducting an end-of-year member survey, facilitating a board debrief, writing a transition memo for your successor, and planning recognition for your board. They will help you reflect on the past year and strategically align your branch to have a successful year.

Branch Member Survey

Surveying your members will help you collect valuable information about what worked well and what could be improved in your branch’s work for the year. This information will help you give recommendations and tips to the next board and plan for the upcoming year.

Tips for a successful survey

  • Consider whether or not you want your survey to be anonymous. Members may be more comfortable sharing feedback anonymously, while having names attached to responses may give you greater context and the option to follow up for clarification.
  • Use Google Forms or SurveyMonkey (up to 10 questions) to collect responses. Both of these free platforms allow you to conduct your survey anonymously.
  • Ensure that you ask respondents to explain their answers for each question.
  • Ask open ended questions, or ask members to answer on a multiple choice scale (strongly agree to strongly disagree) with space for comments.

Know that members may have some critical feedback. You may not always agree with the feedback you receive, but recognize that there are always things that can be improved.

Suggested survey questions


  • I had a clear understanding of our mission and goals as a branch. [agree/disagree scale]
  • The programs we held were effective in pursuing our mission. [agree/disagree scale]

Your involvement in the branch

  • I had a clear understanding of the ways I could be involved in the branch. [agree/disagree scale]
  • I had opportunities to engage in a meaningful way with the branch. [agree/disagree scale]
  • Describe your involvement in the branch in the last year. [open ended]


  • Branch leaders and other members made me feel welcomed and included. [agree/disagree scale]
  • My ideas and contributions and those of other members were valued. [agree/disagree scale]


  • How could the branch improve next year? [open ended]
  • What kinds of programs or events could the branch hold next year? [open ended]

Board Debrief

A debrief meeting will help you dig into the feedback you collected through your survey and explore additional areas of branch processes and systems. Group debriefs often help participants think of new points of feedback and can be a great space for coming up with ideas for improvement.

Tips for conducting a debrief meeting

  • Provide board members with the categories that will be discussed ahead of time so that they can prepare.
  • Ask clarifying questions and encourage participants to share specific ideas about how something can be improved.
  • Take care to create a safe space for providing feedback. Don’t disagree with feedback or single anyone out for their behavior.
  • Know that board members may have some critical feedback. You may not always agree with the feedback you receive, but recognize that there are always things that can be improved.

Download suggested debrief questions  Word — 35K B

Transition Memo

A transition memo is one of the best ways to ensure a smooth transition to the next person in your role. It will help orient your successor to her role and share what you have accomplished and where the work is headed.. It will also allow you to share best practices and recommendations for how to manage her responsibilities successfully.

If you have a co-director, the transition memo should be created by both of you together. Use the information collected from the survey and debrief meeting to help you complete the memo.

Below is a list of suggested categories for your memo. Feel free to adapt these categories based on your role. For each category, provide an overview of best practices and suggested changes.

  • Goals and achievements
  • Role and responsibilities
  • Projects throughout the year
  • Planning and project management
  • Delegation and working with her committee (if applicable)
  • Working with your co-director (if applicable)
  • Existing relationships and ongoing projects

Also include relevant documents, data, and resources with your transition memo, as well as a way to get in touch with you if your successor has any questions.

Rewards and Recognition

It’s important to let your board know how much you appreciate the time and energy that they have put into the branch. Below are just a few of the ways that you can thank them and recognize them for their contributions.

Ways to say thanks

  • Send personalized thank-you notes in the mail.
  • Call each board member individually to thank them.
  • Take each board member out to coffee.
  • Offer to write letters of recommendation.

Ways to celebrate your board

  • During your final meeting or over e-mail, recap everything that the board has accomplished together and thank them for their hard work.
  • During your final meeting, plan time for people to thank one another. Give each board member time to share parting thoughts.
  • Plan a fun year-end activity or meal.
  • Encourage the board to stay in touch with one another and set an example of doing so.

Tips for preparing a personalized thank-you

  • Think about the specific contributions that your board member has made.
  • Focus on the areas where she really shines.
  • When the note is perfect, transfer it into a thank-you card.
  • If you prefer to thank the board member in person or on the phone, you can use the note as practice for what to say.

Adapted from Words to Thank Volunteers

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