100% Personal Board Giving is a Must

One of the questions I get most often from nonprofit Board Chairs and Executive Directors is should board members be required to give personally?

There are those who feel that because they donate their time and talent to the organization, they should not have to donate money as well.

I don’t agree. It is important that board members give financially to the organization for many reasons. 
Board members are considered “family” to the organization and as such, they should lead the way for the rest of the community to give.100% board giving shows that the board is committed to the organization. This is important because several grantmaking Foundations will not give if 100% of your board has not invested financially in the organization. Also, if you have any hope of gifts from individuals 100% of board members should be giving. It is hypocritical for board members to ask others to give financially when they are not giving themselves.

Some boards have a minimum amount that board members need to give. Other boards may choose not to set a required minimum amount as to not limit giving from those who can give more. Another practice is to require board members to give a donation that is a meaningful gift for them. This allows the flexibility of having board members with various income levels the opportunity to serve on your board and support your organization.

The size of the gift is not as relevant as your board members’ understanding that financially supporting your organization is a part of their role as a board member.

So, what does it take to change your board’s culture to be one where all board members personally give an annual gift?

  1. It starts at the top – One of the strongest influences shaping board culture is the behavior of those in the critical leadership positions of Board Chair and Executive Director. While these positions do not have formal authority to make board decisions, they do carry a great deal of informal influence over the process. You need your board chair to champion 100% of board giving.
  2. Board education – This is a great topic of discussion for a board retreat. Uncomfortable as it might be, you must encourage a healthy dialogue around this topic. Expect some dissension. There will be both risks and rewards when taking on this topic. You could potentially lose some board members however, those who stay will increase their commitment to the organization.
  3. Set the expectation – The executive committee must create and ratify a Board Expectation document that includes the stipulation that members make financial contributions. It can also be something that board members are measured by, in terms of how they have participated, attended meetings, and supported the organization. When new members are recruited, they will know that giving is expected along with other duties and responsibilities.
  4. Flexibility – Board members should be offered a variety of ways to pay their financial contribution. Some may prefer to give annually some may prefer to give a small amount monthly. 
  5. Board giving campaign – To get 100% of your nonprofit’s board members to give every year, you must ask them. Most of them won’t remember that they’re supposed to give, or they’ll get busy with their lives and forget that they didn’t give. So, each year in January make a short campaign part of your board meeting to make it easier for them and for you. Simply, have each member re-sign their Board Member Agreement Form where it lists board giving as a requirement. This is a good way to remind everyone of their responsibility and run the campaign at the same time.

Let’s acknowledge that culture must be cultivated, and that takes time. So, try not to get frustrated. You must think positive and be supportive as you try to reach the goal of 100% board giving.

I hope this helps.  Comments are welcomed. Sharing is Caring.

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