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How to Write a Resignation Letter to a Board of Trustees

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If you're serving on a board of trustees and need to resign, writing a letter of resignation may seem daunting. However, it is likely you will be relieved after it is done. Be sure to write the letter with grace and tact, so there are no ill feelings on either side. Leaving an important professional commitment is never an easy decision, but you make it easier by following these steps.

Use Business Letter Format

Employ all standards of business letter etiquette. ​See the resources section for a full review of business letter etiquette and a sample of templates you can download and use.

Be Polite and Professional

Maintain a polite and professional tone at all times. Although your reason for resigning might be because of conflict or an unhappy experience during your time as a board member, this letter will forever be attached to your professional life. Bowing out gracefully will assure you are not burning any bridges.

Briefly Share Why You're Resigning

Give some insight as to your reasons for resigning. If the issue is personal, you do not need to offer details you are uncomfortable giving. If the issue has to do with your health, you have the right to maintain your confidentiality and not divulge medical information. In both of these situations, it is enough to say that you are resigning for “personal reasons”, a “family emergency” or because of “health reasons” without going into too much detail.

Show Respect

Convey respect for the work the board and its members accomplish throughout the year. Include a specific example to make this section more genuine. You could recount a positive memory from your time on the board or share how holding the board position helped you grow personally and professionally.

Close with Sincerity

Close with good wishes for the future of the board. This courteous statement will breed goodwill and deflect personal issues other members of the board may have with your resignation. A generic "good luck" may sound insincere, so you should write a few specific hopes you have concerning the direction of the board or a particular project.


Maddie Maloy is a junior at Indiana University (IU) studying journalism and minoring in marketing and public and environmental affairs. She is passionate about advancing social justice globally through communication and storytelling. At IU, she works as a reporter for the Arnolt Center of Investigative Journalism. She also serve as the vice president and philanthropy chair for Theta Nu Xi Multicultural Sorority, Inc.